The boys in blue go into Colorado for their first away match of the 2018 season.
After beating New England and drawing a ridiculously-hot Columbus side at home, the Union now venture out onto the road. The road has been less than hospitable to the Union in recent history; the boys in blue gained just nine total points (one win and six draws) in seventeen matches away from Talen Energy Stadium last year. (They were also eliminated from the Open Cup on the road, for good measure). In contrast, no playoff team in the East gained less than 16 points on the road last year:
- Toronto – 27 points
- NYCFC – 22
- Atlanta – 19
- RBNY – 17
- Chicago and Columbus – 16 each
Even a modest gain of seven points on the road might be the difference between going to the playoffs and going home if the Union can continue their excellent form at home over from last year.
For their part, Colorado has done a bit of stumbling while coming out of the blocks, dropping a 2-1 decision in New England and then drawing Sporting Kansas City at home, 2-2. They allowed goals in second-half stoppage in both matches (dropping three points in heart-wrenching fashion) which can be habit-forming as the Union faithful know, and may be something we’ll have to watch for in the waning moments if the match is close. Old USMNT warhorse Tim Howard is still between the sticks for the Rapids and is backed up by Big Orange himself, Zac MacMath. The U will also have to keep an eye on Joe Mason; the English striker was signed a couple weeks ago by Colorado, was selected for the first time against SKC and promptly scored for the Rapids just eight minutes into the match. Also of interest is the ever-dangerous Shkelzen Gashi, who (when healthy) is a threat to score ten goals a season, something he nearly accomplished in 2016 before injuries greatly shortened his 2017 campaign.
The Union will look to get more in sync with their new addition Borek Dockal, who looked dangerous last match even though he wasn’t always on the same page as his teammates. That chemistry should come with time and training, something the Union both had a lot of in the past two weeks between their last match and this tilt in the Rockies. They’ll look to create the plethora of chances they did for C.J. Sapong in the New England match (late men advantage notwithstanding); Sapong had one goal that match but realistically could have had three or four if he was in mid-season form. The U will also look to get David Accam loose down the wing and behind the defense; the Crew did a good job of hanging back and limiting Accam, but not everyone will be able (or willing) to sit back like that.
If the young back line can limit the danger in front of the always-stellar Andre Blake, there’s no reason this team can’t walk out of Colorado with at least a point. Trusty the Process.
Colorado 1, Union 1