Preview: Unbeaten at home, East-leading Union host Rapids

Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids, July 29

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images/MLSsoccer.com

PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
7:30 p.m. ET (FOX Soccer / Deportes)
July 29, 2011 (WEEK 20; MLS Game 192)

Philadelphia Union return to league action at home when they take on Colorado Rapids on FOX Soccer Night in America on Friday at PPL Park. Union extended their undefeated run to five games in their last league contest, a dominant 3-0 win at New England. The Rapids are coming off a late 2-2 draw with those same Revolution at home last weekend.

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REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Claudio Badea; JAR (opposite): Matthew Kreitzer; 4th: Armando Villarreal
MLS Career: 64 games; FC/gm: 24.5; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 21; pens: 18

INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION—QUESTIONABLE: FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); PROBABLE: FW Veljko Paunovic (L hip strain) ... COLORADO RAPIDS—OUT: FW Conor Casey (L achilles tear); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Brian Mullan (lower back spasms); DF Anthony Wallace (R quad strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain); FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Carlos Valdes ... COL: Conor Casey
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Danny Mwanga, Sheanon Williams ... COL: Ross LaBauex, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Sanna Nyassi, Wells Thompson, Anthony Wallace

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 6 goals ... Union 0 wins, 3 goals ... Ties 2
AT PHILADELPHIA (1 meeting): Union 0 wins, 1 goal ... Rapids 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 1

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this year. Conor Casey and Danny Mwanga traded goals midway through the second half as the teams ended in a 1-1 draw June 4 in Commerce City.
  • 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: P3 W1 L0 D2 ... Peter Nowak vs. COL: P10 W2 L4 D4

LAST MATCH
6/4: COL 1, PHI 1 (Casey 62—Mwanga 66)

  • Both goals came in a four-minute span midway through the second half. After Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni was taken down by Union defender Danny Califf in the box, Conor Casey converted from the spot, wrong-footing goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón with a deft lob.
  • But in the 66th minute, Danny Mwanga pulled the visitors level, taking a shot from just outside the edge of the area that Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens couldn't keep out of the goal despite getting his hands to the ball.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura (Scott Palguta 77), Drew Moor, Tyrone Marshall, Anthony Wallace - Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz - Jamie Smith, Andre Akpan (Quincy Amarikwa 46), Wells Thompson - Conor Casey (Caleb Folan 74).
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey - Justin Mapp (Keon Daniel 25 / Stefani Miglioranzi 79), Kyle Nakazawa, Brian Carroll, Gabriel Farfan - Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Danny Mwanga 59).

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union return to league action after a weekend away, extending their unbeaten streak to five games in a 3-0 victory against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium last time out. Union have 31 points from 19 matches on the year, in a tie atop the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Union were ahead after just 12 minutes. Justin Mapp carved out a bit of space and crossed to Keon Daniel at the back post. Daniel headed back across the face of goal for Carlos Ruiz to acrobatically volley home from close range.
  • Philadelphia doubled the advantage after 24 minutes to complete another tidy piece of play. Kyle Nakazawa's free kick from midfield located Sebastien Le Toux outside the near post. Le Toux nodded the ball across the face of goal for Carlos Valdes to volley home his first MLS goal.
  • The Revolution were left a man down after 66 minutes when Benny Feilhaber was shown a second yellow card after a tackle on Ruiz.
  • Sheanon Williams concluded a fine night for Union by scoring in stoppage time, racing clear of the Revolution back line to run onto a pass from Danny Mwanga and stabbing the ball past goalkeeper Matt Reis.
  • Union manager Peter Nowak made two changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Carlos Valdes came back in for Stefani Miglioranzi, and Carlos Ruiz returned to the team for Danny Mwanga.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll - Justin Mapp (Danny Mwanga 63), Kyle Nakazawa, Keon Daniel (Stefani Miglioranzi 79) - Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Michael Farfan 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Union posted a shutout for a second consecutive match, and have now scored eight goals in their last four games—hitting for multiple goals in three—after scoring one goal or zero in 13 of their first 15 games.
  • "I think we need to do better with the ball in the second half. It's good to have the points we have, it's good the position that we're in right now and we need to work again in the same fashion," said manager Peter Nowak. "I think the first 45 minutes was very good game from us. We created a lot of chances, the ball of the movement, the passing patterns. Everything was there and the goals we scored were fantastic, so it's a lot of things to be proud of."
  • Carlos Ruiz scored for the third time in four games, raising his team-leading goal total to six.
  • "We tried to keep the possession of the ball. We came here and knew it was going to be difficult because of the heat and the turf, but we scored first, we came aggressive in the first half and after the goal I think we came out and delivered on the game," Ruiz said.
  • Since the league victory, Union have played two international friendlies. In the first, July 20 at PPL Park, Philadelphia claimed a 1-0 win against the English Premier League's Everton FC.
  • Union academy player Christian Hernandez, the U.S. Soccer U-17/18 Development Academy Player of the Year, scored the game's lone goal in the 87th minute. "It felt like a dream," he said. "I was running and it felt like I was floating."
  • Here's the Union team: Zac MacMath (Thorne Holder 46); Sheanon Williams (Ryan Richter 46), Carlos Valdes (Juan Diego Gonzalez 46), Stefani Miglioranzi, Gabriel Farfan (Zach Pfeffer 63); Justin Mapp (Michael Farfan 46), Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres, Keon Daniel (Christian Hernandez 70); Jack McInerney (Jimmy McLaughlin 78), Danny Mwanga
  • Then on July 23, at Lincoln Financial Field, Union fell 2-1 to Spanish superclub Real Madrid. Jose Maria Callejon and Mesut Özil put Real ahead by two goals after 11 minutes; Michael Farfan scored a stunning goal in the 80th minute to pull a goal back for Union.
  • Here's the Union team: Faryd Mondragon (Zac MacMath 65), Sheanon Williams (Ryan Richter 81), Danny Califf (Juan Diego Gonzalez 75), Carlos Valdes (Stefani Miglioranzi 75), Gabriel Farfan (Jimmy McLaughlin 82), Justin Mapp (Zach Pfeffer 70), Brian Carroll (Amobi Okugo 70), Kyle Nakazawa (Michael Farfan 46), Keon Daniel (Roger Torres 46), Sébastien Le Toux (Jack McInerney 65), Carlos Ruiz (Danny Mwanga 46).
  • "In the back of your mind, you're hoping it doesn't turn into a 4-0 debacle," Union defender Danny Califf admitted. "But I think we settled down and showed some good character and basically fought hard."

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids concluded their two-game homestand with a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have 31 points from 23 games, sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Revolution took the lead after 25 minutes. Benny Feilhaber snuck in front of Wells Thompson to latch onto a flick-on by Stephen McCarthy from Kevin Alston's long throw-in, his first MLS goal.
  • The Rapids pulled level midway through the second half. Sanna Nyassi ran onto a return pass in a one-two with Omar Cummings, and was upended by left back Chris Tierney. Referee Geoff Gamble pointed immediately to the spot and produced a red card, and Caleb Folan completed the damage by converting the penalty.
  • Then 17 minutes later, Kosuke Kimura sent a speculative long ball toward the New England penalty area from inside his own half. The ball caught ëkeeper Matt Reis in no-man's land, as he let the ball bounce over him and into the goal.
  • But the Revs fought back despite being a man down for the second time in three games. Substitute Kenny Mansally snuck into the top of the penalty area and was fouled by Scott Palguta for the game's second penalty. Shalrie Joseph stepped up and made no mistake in converting the spot kick, finishing smoothly.
  • Rapids head coach Gary Smith made two changes to the team that defeated the New York Red Bulls 4-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Scott Palguta came into central defense for Tyrone Marshall, and Caleb Folan replaced Omar Cummings up top.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Scott Palguta (Andre Akpan 92+), Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor - Brian Mullan (Ross LaBauex 86), Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson (Omar Cummings 46) - Sanna Nyassi, Caleb Folan.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids weren't able to extend their home winning streak, having won two in a row before the visit by New England.
  • "The game ended maybe the way it should. We had a PK and we had a ball that jumped over the goalie's head," said Pablo Mastroeni. "I think overall we had decent possession, but we weren't as dangerous as we'd like to have been, and we had an extra man. I think the biggest problem was we had an extra man and didn't take advantage of it and really press the game and make them suffer and really take it to them.
  • After scoring a hat trick against New York, Sanna Nyassi was kept in the starting lineup, but paired with Caleb Folan up top as Omar Cummings went to the substitutes' bench following five consecutive starts.
  • "I thought the pairing of him and Sanna [Nyassi] in the week were great, but Omar's had two tough games. Caleb [Folan] is a very capable individual, and I wanted to keep that front line as energetic as possible," Gary Smith said. "And I always felt there would be some inclusion at some point from the bench, with Omar, and I wouldn't think he's a very nice sight coming off the bench with however long to go. He did well when he came on—instrumental in the first goal."
  • Kosuke Kimura scored his third career goal—both of his previous goals in league play coming in the 2009 season. He also netted last year during the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • "We gave the goal away 15 minutes in—we can't do that at home. We gave them that little edge to go again, to come out against us, and we didn't control that enough," Kimura said. "But we were patient, we get the goal back in the second half, and everybody was going. But there's still not much spark there. We're missing something. Maybe everybody's fatigued and all that, but there's no excuse."
  • Winger Jamie Smith has missed three games with hamstring and calf problems, and though he has returned to full training, his availability is still in question.
  • "It's just a tight hamstring, no strain, no tear," he said. "It's not allowing me to function the way I want to function. At this moment, I'm not 100 percent. We'll have to wait and see. I'm struggling with it at the moment, but I'm not overly worried about it and I'll be back as soon as possible."
  • The Rapids have scored seven goals from set piece situations—six from free kicks (four directly from free kicks) and one from a corner, that coming July 16 vs. Seattle, Jamie Smith's first game out.
  • "What we have seen, especially from dead balls, and in that final pass, I think we have missed something," Gary Smith said. "You can never tell what, but Jamie's been creative in those moments and, to have him back in the group again, will be a big help, there's no doubt about it. He gives us another dimension."