Colorado Rapids (10-7-8, 38 points, sixth place in Western Conference) vs. Philadelphia Union (7-12-6, 27 points, fifth place in Eastern Conference) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
The teams battled to a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia on Aug. 14 in the first ever match-up between the two teams.
9:30 p.m. ET, Live Well HD Network, My Network TV WQMY
This is a huge game for the home team. Ahead of two straight home games, the Rapids lie in the much-coveted eighth playoff position. Colorado have won their last three homes fixtures by successive 3-0 margins and will be confident ahead of this midweek game after a gutsy 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake last weekend.
Philadelphia, in their debut season, are more than a long shot for any playoff position at this late stage in the season, but they will be confident going into this match after their own convincing 3-0 victory over Chivas USA last weekend.
The Rapids know they have to get the maximum from this game and against D.C. United on Saturday, and anything less will rock the great momentum they have found in recent games. With the tough road trip to Salt Lake now safely and successfully behind them, they can enjoy being at home this week against opposition with little to play for other than pride.
Conor Casey, who scored in the Rapids' 1-1 tie with RSL last Saturday, will be unavailable for the game because of yellow-card accumulation. However, Macoumba Kandji will likely have a new strike partner in Omar Cummings. The Jamaican stayed behind in Colorado over the weekend as a precautionary measure as he was suffering a sore ankle.
Gary Smith knows the next two games are there for the taking, but he warned against complacency.
“These home games are not to be taken lightly,” Smith said, “but there is a real steely determination in this group to finish the job off.”
The Union enjoyed what Manager Peter Nowak and team captain Danny Califf described as their best result of the season in the 3-0 victory over Chivas USA.
The expansion team is making good progress, Nowak said. Philadelphia may be inconsistent, but they have snatched two road victories this year against Houston and New England and should not be taken lightly.
They also have a potential match winner in Sebastien Le Toux, who leads the team with 12 goals and 10 assists.
"We have assembled a group of fighters," Nowak told philadelphiaunion.com. "It is good for the future and it is good for this team as a characteristic of what we want to do.”
Though not mathematically out of the playoff picture, the Union are 11 points behind Colorado for the eighth and final postseason berth with five games remaining.
Heroes & Villains:
Omar Cummings and Mac Kandji vs. the Philadelphia defense: The Union will be relieved they don’t have to worry about Casey for this game, but they will not be comforted by Cummings' return. He and Kandji will provide more than a stern test of speed against Califf and his Union defense, which should include former Rapids player Jordan Harvey.
Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …"
Colorado have not conceded a goal at home in almost two months, the last one being in a 1-1 tie with FC Dallas July 31.