COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — After dominating their First Kick opener last weekend against Columbus, the Colorado Rapids aren’t anticipating such an easy go-around in their road opener on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union (4 pm ET, NBC Sports, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).
“Every time we go there it’s a difficult game,” Rapids midfielder and Philadelphia native Jeff Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “They’re young and they’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of talent going forward.”
WATCH: Arlo White previews Philly-Colorado
While Philly will be missing Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo to US Under-23 action this weekend, the Rapids are still anticipating the young Union side to be hungry, particularly after suffering a frustrating 3-1 loss on Wednesday to the Portland Timbers. But Colorado have their own secret weapon: experience.
“The mentality that we play with is that we got to come out with our game,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “We are expecting a team that is going to come [out] flashy and come out quick. We want the boys to be composed and have a good emotional intelligence in the game.
“That for me is the key. A team that can show maturity and handle the tempo of the game,” Pareja continued. “Don’t let Philadelphia manage the tempo. We are the ones who dictate it.”
With Philadelphia opening up in front of what’s expected to be a packed PPL Park for their home opener, taking the home fans out of the game early is another key to victory.
“It’s definitely about managing that first part of the game,“ said Larentowicz, who is expecting more than 100 family and friends to be in the stands as he returns home. “Especially coming off of a loss, they’re going to be high energy, Peter [Nowak, Union manager] I’m sure has been training them hard. I’m sure weathering the first 15 to 20 minutes is going to be important for us.”
Defender Hunter Freeman (foot) could be available for the Rapids after fully practicing all week. Midfielder Martín Rivero’s International Transfer Request form was still not in as of late Thursday, but the Rapids continued to remain optimistic Thursday that the Argentine would be available for Sunday’s game. Conor Casey (Achilles) and Jamie Smith (six-game DL, knee) will miss out.