Having extended their unbeaten streak to six matches, the Eastern Conference-leading Union clash with the Western Conference-leading Colorado Rapids on Saturday night in a matchup of the two top teams in MLS.
The Union come off an exciting yet frustrating draw against Orlando City. After taking an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Tranquillo Barnetta, Orlando struck for two quick goals, both somewhat questionable. The Union then tied the match at 2-2 on a goal by Ken Tribbett on a short corner from Tranquillo Barnetta. Andre Blake continues to play amazing in goal for the Union, stopping a first half penalty from Kaka to keep the match scoreless. Meanwhile, Colorado is coming off a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders. They are now unbeaten in eight consecutive matches, winning six of those. Both teams like to play defense but also like to utilize a high press, so expect a high-pressure match from both sides.
The last time the Union met Colorado, Rais M’Bolhi was the starting goalkeeper and we all thought Nick Sakiewicz owned part of the club and was invincible. Much like the Union with a lead last year, neither of those things saw the year out. As for the match itself, it was an ugly, physical 0-0 draw at Talen Energy in March of 2015 to start the season. The scoreless affair featured seven yellow cards, 34 fouls, a sending off, 60 percent possession for the Union, a 16-2 shot advantage, but only one point gained as the Union’s poor start to the season eventually buried any hopes they had of making a playoff run.
Both teams are hot right now with neither having lost in over a month. The Rapids have yet to lose at home in six matches and have only allowed two goals in those games. The Union will face off against former teammate Zac MacMath for the first time as well. MacMath holds Union club goalkeeping records in nearly every category: Games Played (111), Wins (33), Saves (283), and Shutouts (28). He is capable of brilliant saves but sometimes hesitates to command the box, a trait that has burned him in the past. As for the rest of the Rapids, Jermaine Jones and Shkëlzen Gashi will be missing from the lineup due to nation team commitments.
For the Union, Josh Yaro looks to be out of the 18 for the Colorado match, having exited the Orlando match around halftime with an apparent shoulder injury. Vincent Nogueira and Ilsinho are still question marks as well and it’s up in the air when they’ll be fit again. With the miles piling up on Brian Carroll, one option is to use Roland Alberg at the 8, which would put Warren Creavalle at the 6. At the very least, it would put Alberg on the field… if Curtin trusts him out there.
Possible lineup: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry; Carroll, Creavalle; Pontius, Barnetta, Le Toux; Sapong
Something to look for: the Rapids have allowed one-third of all their goals against in the fifteen minutes immediately after halftime.
Prediction: True to form, Zac MacMath and the Rapids play stingy defense and the two teams keep the game scoreless in the first half. Dillon Powers scores late for Colorado, but an added time goal by Fabian Herbers steals a point for the Union and keeps the unbeaten streak alive as the boys in blue steal a precious point in Denver. Union 1, Rapids 1.