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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
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11/30 9:20pm
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Western Conference Championship
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11/23 FINAL
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2NE
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11/29 3:00pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

Preview: Rampant Union pay visit to stagnant Rapids

The Colorado Rapids remain at home to take on the rampaging Philadelphia Union when the clubs meet on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are on the verge of MLS history, having played to five consecutive draws, last a 1-1 result with Sporting Kansas City. Union exploded for a club-record goal fest, defeating Toronto FC 6-2 last weekend at BMO Field, their second win in a row.

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REFEREE: Jasen Anno. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Mike Kampmeinert; 4th: Armando Villarreal. MLS Career: 24 games; FC/gm: 22.7; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 16; pens: 6

INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain); MF Joseph Nane (R shoulder strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain) … PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: GK Thorne Holder (Concussion); MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Michael Farfan (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Gabriel Farfan (L hamstring strain); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain); MF Zach Pfeffer (appendectomy); FW Carlos Ruiz (R groin strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES:
COL: Omar Cummings, Tyrone Marshall (Jamaica); Sanna Nyassi (The Gambia) … PHI: Carlos Ruiz (Guatemala)

SUSPENDED:
COL: Brian Mullan (through June 26)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Danny Mwanga
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Conor Casey, Tyrone Marshall, Pablo Mastroeni, Drew Moor … PHI: Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey, Sheanon Williams

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 5 goals … Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
  • AT COLORADO (1 meeting): Rapids 1 win, 4 goals … Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
  • RETURN MATCH: 7/29: Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. ET (FOX Soccer)
  • LAST YEAR (MLS): 8/14: PHI 1, COL 1 (Mwanga 73 – Larentowicz 59); 9/29: COL 4, PHI 1 (Cummings 8, 15; Thompson 68; Amarikwa 86 – McInerney 90)
  • The Rapids defeated Union 4-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in their first Colorado meeting, Sept. 29 of last year; the teams played to a 1-1 draw at PPL Park in August.
  • Coaches record: Gary Smith v PHI: P2 W1 L0 D1 … Peter Nowak vs. COL: P9 W2 L4 D3

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids played to a fifth consecutive draw, this time held by Sporting Kansas City in a 1-1 result on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have 18 points from 13 games, sitting in fourth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Rapids took the lead in the 13th minute as Conor Casey latched onto a poor back pass from Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin, rounded goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and slid the ball toward goal. Sporting defender Matt Besler nearly cleared it off the line but only drove it into the net.
  • But Sporting found the equalizer with a quarter-hour to play. Ryan Smith was freed on the left side of the Rapids penalty area by Teal Bunbury and finished well into the top right corner past goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
  • Rapids head coach Gary Smith made two changes to the team that reached a 2-2 result with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Tyrone Marshall came into the back four for Anthony Wallace, and Conor Casey started up top for Andre Akpan
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-4-1): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor - Pablo Mastroeni - Sanna Nyassi (Joseph Nane 46 / Andre Akpan 57), Ross LaBauex (Caleb Folan 73), Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson - Conor Casey.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids have now played to five consecutive draws, matching the most in MLS history in a single season, set four times previously, last in 2009 by Seattle. The all-time MLS record is six consecutive ties, set by San Jose over the conclusion of the 2004 season and the start of 2005.
  • “The fact that we stay unbeaten is always good. You can see from the away games that we’ve played that there are points to be had when we go away, but we’re going to have to turn the screw a little bit when we go away and pick up some of those points lost here,” Rapids coach Gary Smith said.
  • Making his second start in three games after missing six games to a hamstring injury, Conor Casey scored his first goal of the year in the draw with Sporting KC. Casey has hit for double-digits in goals in each of the last three years, with 40 in all in that time.
  • "It was good to get it," Casey said. "I've been injured and then played and had some opportunities and didn't finish. So, it was kind of a gimme, but I'll take it. Any way to get a start."
  • Ross LaBauex made his second consecutive start, this time in more of a central midfield role with Casey as the lone striker, after starting up top against New York.
  • “The day of the (New York) game Gary just said, ‘Look I’m going to try to play in this formation can you play in there? Can you stay close to Andre and connect with him?’ And I was like ‘Yeah, I’m good, as long as I can play I’m good,’ LaBauex said.
  • There were some injury woes out of the match for the Rapids. Marvell Wynne aggravated a hamstring injury suffered earlier in the year and had to leave with about 10 minutes left, leaving the Rapids a man down as they had already used both substitutes.
  • Joseph Nane had come on at halftime but was forced off barely 10 minutes later, after suffering another separated shoulder.
  • “At the moment the group’s going through the grinder physically. We’re having to endure some injuries, and when anybody gets hurt or has a physical issue that keeps them out, it always compounds what we already have,” Smith said. “And at some point we just have to try and break free from that. Hopefully we win a game and feel a lot better about ourselves.”
  • With the injury situation, defender Tyrone Marshall has informed the Jamaica Football Federation he might have to miss out on the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
  • “I want to make sure everything is good here first. Here is first priority,” Marshall said. “ … If Jamaica make it through and they need me, then we’ll see. Going away (now) and leaving the team shorthanded wouldn’t be right.”
  • As well, Omar Cummings – who has not appeared for the Rapids since May 4 after suffering an ankle injury – has told the JFF he will not be available for the team’s matches in the group stage. “I just told them I’m not ready yet, but if they need me later, we’ll take a look then,” Cummings said.

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Philadelphia Union rolled to a second consecutive win, setting a club record in a 6-2 defeat of Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. Union have 20 points from 11 matches on the year, leading the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Union had a two-goal lead by the 11th minute. In the second minute, a Jordan Harvey cross from the left flank found Gabriel Farfan completely unmarked in the box and he stroked a shot inside the left post. Then Justin Mapp sailed up the center of the park and ripped a drive from outside the box that sailed to the back of the net.
  • Kyle Nakazawa finished off a nice passing combination from the heart of the area, knocking home a backheel from Danny Mwanga to make it 3-0 to Philadelphia just before the halftime break.
  • Toronto FC showed signs of a comeback with two goals from Maicon Santos within 10 minutes. First, he ran onto a long pass from Danleigh Borman, rounded goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and tucked the ball into the open goal (50). Then a Borman cross fell to Maicon and he knocked it home from close range.
  • But Union killed off the comeback two minutes later when Mapp intercepted a poor clearance and hammered a drive from outside the area into the top of the net. Mwanga then hit the scoresheet twice, turning home a Sebastien Le Toux cross in the 72nd minute then easily side-footing home in the 89th.
  • Union manager Peter Nowak made three changes to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 2-1 at PPL Park.
  • Gabriel Farfan and Kyle Nakazawa came into the midfield for Michael Farfan and Amobi Okugo, and Danny Mwanga started up top for Carlos Ruiz.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey - Brian Carroll - Gabriel Farfan, Kyle Nakazawa (Keon Daniel 63), Justin Mapp - Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.

TEAM NEWS

  • The six goals were the most scored in a game in the club’s short history and nearly doubled their entire output for the 2011 season (from eight to 14). They scored as many goals vs. Toronto as they scored in their first nine games of the season.
  • "Everyone has been talking about how we haven't scored too many goals, but I think we proved them wrong in this game," said midfielder Gabriel Farfan.
  • In their first four road games, the Union scored only once, and they started the Toronto FC match with a 355- minute scoreless streak in away matches, with three consecutive shutouts.
  • Justin Mapp and Danny Mwanga each had the first two-goal games of their careers in Union’s 6-2 win at Toronto FC.
  • “I just think we were pretty organized, we put a lot of pressure on their back,” said Mapp. “We forced a few turnovers. I think our guys had some good finishes by everybody, getting in good position. All around it was a good game for us.”
  • Gabriel Farfan scored his first MLS goal in the Union win, matching the goal scored by twin brother the week previous. The Farfans have become fifth brother act to score goals in MLS league play, matching Chris (51) and Sean (4) Henderson, DaMarcus (14) and Jamar (7) Beasley, Sam (4) and Seth (3) George, and Sainey (7) and Sanna (2) Nyassi.
  • “It was definitely exciting [Michael] got his first goal last week,” Gabriel Farfan said. “I was joking with a couple of friends around the league, talking about how I need to score now. I promised [assistant coach John Hackworth] I’d get a goal this game. Luckily, I was able to deliver.”
  • Ahead of leaving to join Guatemala for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Carlos Ruiz did not figure in the goalfest, the first league match he’s missed after signing with Union before the start of the season.
  • Sebastien Le Toux, who led Union with 14 goals a season ago, also did not put his name in the goalscoring column, though he had two assists on the day.