SEATTLE - JULY 25: Omar Cummings #14 of the Colorado Rapids is congratulated by Conor Casey #9 after scoring a goal against the Seattle Sounders FC on July 25 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Finally, the Brian Mullan drama is finished - there was so much 'will he or won't he' during the last week that you'd think this was a 90's sitcom or something - and we can get back to remembering that there's actually 90 minutes of football to be played between the Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders today at 2 PM Mountain Time, Mullan or no Mullan! (If you somehow didn't hear, the answer was 'won't he' and Gary Smith has opted to keep Brian away from the rabid Seattle fans because of a back issue.)
This should be a fun one, or at least a game filled with offense. The red hot Conor Casey - he of six goals in his last seven games - and Omar Cummings will be back together again, something that we've been denied far too often this season. With Mullan out it's likely that the offensive sparkplug and former Sounder Sanna Nyassi will play for Colorado, and lord knows the only place he seems to know how to score at is Qwest Field. Actually, is it Century Link Field yet? If so, replace Qwest with that... whatever. Seattle have all sorts of weapons on the field to attack with as well with Freddy Montero coming off a two goal performance against Portland and guys like Alvaro Fernandez and Brad Evans sticking the goals in at just as good a rate.
As far as defensive aptitude goes I'd give Colorado the edge overall if they use one of the Moor-Marshall-Wynne-Kimura or Wallace-Moor-Wynne-Kimura lineups that feature no Scott Palguta or Danny Earls in them. The Rapids will also be getting a freshly rested Pablo Mastroeni back from suspension, and we've seen how much he does for the team. (Remember Dallas, everyone?) Seattle does have a far better goalkeeper, all star Kasey Keller. Considering the last time that the Rapids came to Seattle Matt Pickens had one of his worst games all season, that might be a bigger tipping point then you'd think. The Sounders will be missing Jhon Hurtado.
With any tactical or player advantages the Rapids might have, they still face the unfortunate truth that they simply never win in Seattle and are still on that terrible run of form dating back to April. They've only gotten three measly wins in the 17 games since that 4-1 defeat of DC United at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Seattle is also on a tear and naturally we don't know if Gary Smith will or won't stick a player like Wells Thompson or Palguta into the lineup when clearly a better option is available. Not having Brian at the very least hurts the depth of the team off the bench, and the Rapids will need to score if they want a point out of this.
This game will be an interesting one, and Mullan missing will probably be a good thing overall for the Rapids to avoid distractions on the field. Still, it's going to be an incredibly tough battle if they want to escape the Emerald City with three points for the first time ever.
UZ'S PREDICTION: 3-1 Seattle