Match Preview: Union versus Colorado Rapids, Saturday May 20th, 7 PM

Maybe Jim Curtin was right after all. Maybe the Philadelphia Union are a good team.

After the 2-0 loss at home a month ago against NYCFC, I was disheartened and stated that the Union were a very bad team. I was frustrated that Curtin kept insisting otherwise. It seemed to get worse when they blew a three-goal lead against Montreal the following week. At that point in time, it seemed that the Union were incapable of winning.

But something has happened since then. They took a road point with a scoreless draw against the LA Galaxy, and followed that up with an impressive three-game winning streak. The boys in blue have scored nine goals in that span. I might have to eat my words if they keep playing like this, but I don’t care. They will be delicious.

The Philadelphia Union (3-4-4) have shown they aren’t as bad as we all thought through the first seven games of this season. Like last season, the Union are looking like a streaky team again, where it’s either feast or famine. And right now we are feasting. They have climbed out of the cellar and are now in seventh place, just three points under the red line. And the team is not just winning, but looking good while doing it.

With his move back to the number 8 spot, Alejandro Bedoya is starting to look like the stud the Union thought they were signing. Fafa Picault and Haris Medunjanin are finally getting acclimated to Major League Soccer, and Curtin may have found his number 10 in Ilsinho. In the back, Oguchi Onyewu and Jack Elliott have played solid defense.

After the U put in a top-notch performance against Western Conference leaders Houston Dynamo Wednesday night (though now in second place after losing at Talen Energy Stadium), their MLS schedule will now serve up the last place team in the West—the Colorado Rapids—for a 7 p.m. match this Saturday.

The Rapids (2-7-1) have had a horrible start to their season. They only have seven points after 10 games, and they’ve lost every match on the road so far. They thought perhaps they were finally turning their season around after a 3-0 win over San Jose on Saturday, but they followed that up with a wretched performance in a 3-0 loss in Chicago Wednesday night.

Colorado surprised MLS watchers last year when they finished the regular season in second place, mostly on the strength of their defense. Going into 2017, the Rapids tried to boost their offense by signing former LA Galaxy super-sub Alan Gordon, but he’s been ineffective so far. The Union defense will need to keep their eyes on Colorado’s top two goal scorers: midfielder Shkelzen Gashi and forward Dominique Badji. Our old buddy Zac MacMath is on the team, but most likely it will be USMNT legend Tim Howard tending the goal.

In his post-game press conference Wednesday night, Curtin praised his sports performance department, saying his guys will try to be ready to go. It sounded as if he would like to stick with the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it approach” and use the same starting XI he’s used the past two matches.

Colorado will be desperate to get a result on the road, but they will find that difficult against a Union team that has finally found its form.

Prediction: The feast will continue. It would be so Union-y to lose to a last-place team at home, but the boys in blue are firing on all cylinders right now. The shutout streak has to end eventually though, so I’ll hedge and say the Rapids score one. Union 2, Colorado 1


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