CHESTER, PA- JULY 29: Danny Mwanga #10 of the Philadelphia Union is unable to get off a shot while being defended by Kosuke Kimura #27 and Marvell Wynne #22 of the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park on July 29, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Rapids won 2-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
The Colorado Rapids have never actually lost a game at PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union. Their first year of existence the Rapids were able to eke out a 1-1 draw and then won 2-1 last season on goals by Sanna Nyassi and Pablo Mastroeni. Well, last year's Philly team looked a lot better than this year's model did in their first game against the Portland Timbers, so going on first game form alone the Rapids should have the advantage.
The Union lost two of the biggest names on the team in the offseason when Sebastien Le Toux was jettisoned to Vancouver and Faryd Mondragon left back to Columbia, which knocked both their defensive leader and half of the goals they'd scored all time off the roster. That's not to say it will be an easy go of it, the Union still have some talent sprinkled around their roster but shouldn't pose quite as high a threat as they did last season when the Rapids marched in and surprised the world with a 2-1 victory.
Here's three keys to the Rapids going into Philly and notching a win.Contain Danny Mwanga - Philly don't have a good looking offense this season without Sebastien Le Toux. Danny Mwanga is the best talent they have left, especially if Freddy Adu is being played out of position. For a defense as good as the Rapids, this means that all they really need to do is close down Danny and they'll be in a great position to keep Philly off the board. They're going to be pushing very hard to score a goal or two in front of their home fans for the home opener, so it will require a bit more push than usual to keep Danny away from the scoreboard.
Shoot. A Lot. - Zac MacMath is a rookie net minder in front of a mediocre defense, and it showed against Portland as he allowed a terrible goal to Andrew Jean-Baptiste and looked without confidence as the game continued to go along. He's not a bad keeper by any stretch of the imagination - there's a reason why Philly are trusting him to man the net this early in his career after picking him up so high in the draft - but if you shoot enough balls at a rookie keeper he's going to eventually crack.
Portland had 17 shots with eight of them on goal, and the Rapids certainly have a talented enough group up top to replicate those numbers against a Philly defense that looked lost without Mondragon calling the shots last week. Omar Cummings alone could put a handful on net if he gets the same service he was getting against Columbus from the midfield. Speaking of which...
Omar Cummings, Getcha Groove Back - Omar Cummings played a fantastic game against the Columbus Crew with only the lack of goals leaving a sour taste in our mouths. After a terrible 2011, we were hoping for improvement and we got it, but Omar needs to start banging in the goals lest he start to get frustrated like last season. This is the perfect opportunity to channel his frustration from the Columbus game into something productive. You know, like two goals or something.