Only Oscar Pareja knows what the Colorado starting XI will look like on Saturday.
With injuries hampering his forwards, midfielders, and starting goalkeeper, the Rapids head coach put out a young lineup in last week's 1-0 season opening loss to FC Dallas.
It's a completely new look for a franchise that won the 2010 MLS Cup under Gary Smith.
“First of all, they're in a very similar situation to us,” Union manager John Hackworth told reporters on Wednesday. “They're trying to rebuild their club a little bit. They're trying to instill a philosophy, they're trying to work on a way that they want to play and be consistent at that, and yet they have a lot of new pieces in their lineup. I know Oscar and (assistant coach Wilmer Cabrera) pretty well, and at least from a philosophical standpoint, I know what they're trying to do.”
Playing a 4-3-3, Pareja handed starts to rookie midfielder Dillon Powers and rookie forward Deshorn Brown. Second year striker Tony Cascio began on the bench, while new signing and former all-star Nick Labrocca wasn't even included in the gameday 18.
Edson Buddle, Martin Rivero, Matt Pickens, and 2012 leading goalscorer Jaime Castrillon were all unavailable due to injury.
“They had some injuries, and I don't know how they've been training,” Hackworth explained. “I know Dillon very well from his days with the U.S. national teams and youth teams, and I think he's a really good player. He's a guy who coming out of the draft could fit in with any team, just as a soccer player.”
Brown was a standout at Union PDL affiliate Reading United, where he scored 13 goals in 13 games in 2012.
He spent his first two college years playing for the University of Mobile, before transferring to UCF as a junior. Brown bagged 66 goals in 59 total college games.
“Deshorn has got incredible talent,” Hackworth said. “It's just a matter of Deshorn putting that talent together. Obviously he did that enough to impress their staff. I was a little surprised that both (Powers and Brown) started in the first game, but I know they had some injuries. They had Buddle, who I hear was (mostly) healthy but had a little bit of a nagging injury, so I think there could be some changes similar to us. I think there's some possible changes for them coming into this game.”
The wild card might be former Union striker Danny Mwanga, who was only recently acquired by Colorado. He's available for selection for the first time this weekend.
“It's the opposite right? It's the Conor Casey vs. Danny Mwanga show,” said Hackworth, laughing. “I'm sure Danny is going to be extremely motivated. I know he hasn't been in Colorado very long, but now he's had a week or so to get adjusted there, so it'll be interesting. I think he's one of those guys who, based on our scouting reports, we feel could be out on the field for them. It'll be good to see him, but I probably won't try to talk friendly to him until after the game.”
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org