Match preview: Union look to end Saturday with a bang in more ways than one against Colorado

Looking for fireworks both on and off the field vs. Rapids (7 p.m.)

Carroll on Fireworks Night

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

Colorado Rapids (7-5-5, 26 points) at Philadelphia Union (4-8-6, 18 points)

What: Major League Soccer regular season match

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.; Tickets: purchase tickets

TV: 6abc with special play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff alongside color analyst Peter Pappas

Radio: None; Online: Streaming video via MLS Live; Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday

Coming to the match? Stay for postgame fireworks from the River End!

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On Tuesday, Sebastien Le Toux told reporters that the realization that of playoffs still well in reach, that making a push to be that last team standing is the mindset of the entire locker room and that “winning is the most important thing right now.”

Doesn’t have to be pretty, though it won’t always look ugly – but Le Toux believes his club has found the right formula to finish the slew of chances it creates each and has figured out a way to convert goals into points.

After a rough start to the season, the Union has seemingly found its stride – and at the right time as the second half of the MLS season continues Saturday with a match against Colorado (7 p.m., purchase tickets). The Rapids enter PPL Park after escaping with a 1-1 draw against Columbus on Independence Day and enters this contest losing just one match against an Eastern Conference opponent (Sporting Kansas City, March 29) all season.

One player the Union will need to keep a close eye on is actually a defender. Rapids right fullback Marvell Wynne is a handful that pushes up high into the attack. Wynne was a terror against Columbus and puts a good ball from that right flank into the box as well. On attack, Vincente Sanchez would've liked to continue his scoring tear, netting six goals in seven MLS matches played, but an appeal for a one-match ban for an infraction against the Crew was rescinded which means Sanchez will miss this match. It's a mystery who will pair up top now with fellow striker Deshorn Brown. Brown, the former Reading United product is second on the club with five goals and among the league leaders in shots (57) and shots on target (19).

But as much as the Union is concerned with Colorado, they know that the competition among its own collective is strong. One positive is that the club is hopeful that midfielder Vincent Nogueira could return from a nagging groin injury and be available for selection. Although, with the recent run of form of the club, it could be a trickier decision to make than just reinserting the MLS All-Star hopeful into the lineup.

“As far as chemistry goes, there is something happening in our midfield, you can tell,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said.  “Cristian Maidana [running in central midfield] has been something we went to [in the interim] and has paid off. Vincent Nogueira got injured so we put Cristian in there a little more during practice and he’s kind of taken it and run with it. He’s doing well in there. Now when you start to think about getting Nogueira back, it’s exciting. He’ll be, fingers crossed, hopefully ready for Colorado. You add him with things that Maidana is doing right now and you have a handful in the midfield. Danny Cruz has been great too so that’s real interchangeable. It’s competition, healthy competition. Everybody’s competing. They fight like crazy on the field and even more on practice.”

This match, presented by Toyota, will feature a bang for your buck both on and off the field as this one is slated as “Fireworks Night” at PPL Park. Fans in attendance will witness a fireworks spectacular postgame and like last season, the Union hope these fireworks come in the aftermath of points gained in a continued quest to get back into the top half of the standings. It will also be the beginning of a three-game in seven day stretch for the club, as it welcomes (if you can call it that) I-95 rival New York Red Bulls to PPL Park for a midweek tilt on Wednesday, July 16 (7 p.m., purchase tickets).

“We’re running out of games, so there is a sense of urgency,” said Union interim manager Jim Curtin. “We have these next two at home, Colorado and then New York. Two huge games, where you can’t call “must wins” yet, but they’re two huge games and we are doing everything we can to be ready for them. It’s been a busy, crazy schedule, but like we said in the locker room, we control where we end up when it all settles.”

While we hope you can make Saturday’s match, if you are unable to attend, be sure to tune into the match on 6abc with special play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff along color analyst Peter Pappas.

Thoughts on this upcoming matchup? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com