Saturday afternoon in West Chester, Pennsylvania the Colorado Rapids open their 20th season in Major League Soccer with a match against Eastern Conference opponent foe Philadelphia Union. There was certainly some debate whether this season was going to start on time but as it was reported earlier the season will start on time and for the Rapids, that means a trip to PPL Park to play the Union. If you remember the match from last year the Union and the Rapids put a fair amount of goals on the board in route to a 3-3 draw.
I had the chance to speak with Eugene Rupinski of Brotherly Game about this season opener for our 'Three Questions' segment:
Burgundy Wave: Jim Curtain had the interim tag removed from his title this off-season. What style of soccer should we expect from him and why was he the best choice:
Brotherly Game: As a former defender, look for the focus to be primarily on defense. That's not to say that the Philadelphia Union won't have a potent attack--quite the opposite--but I think you'll see a stable defensive unit this year as opposed to the revolving door that was last year's corps under John Hackworth.
Curtain was the best choice for a few reason. As a former MLS player, he knows what it's like to play in this league. He understands what it takes to win hardware in MLS. He's also from this area so he knows how the fans here are--very passionate, very opinionated. He gets it, and I think those things really helped sell him as the best candidate for the job.
BW: Zac MacMath was loaned to the Rapids for the 2015 season. Why was he sent out on loan?
BG: Quite frankly, the Union got themselves into quite a mess at goalkeeper. At the start of last season, MacMath looked like he would be the starting goalkeeper for years to come. Then the Union traded up in the 2014 SuperDraft to acquire Jamaican international Andre Blake with the number one pick. MacMath was still seen as the starter, with Blake being the understudy until he developed. Then during the summer, the Union went out and acquired Algerian international Raïs M'Bolhi. The club had three potential number one goalkeepers on the roster, and it became apparent that Zac was the odd man out. There were offseason rumors that MacMath would be moved, but those didn't materialize until it was announced he'd be moved to Colorado.
BW: Conor Casey is a Colorado legend and there were some that were hoping for his return when his option was not picked up. What are the Union hoping for from Casey this year?
BG: Casey is a player whose age is catching up to him. He was overused last season since the Union had no real depth at striker. This offseason, the Union added CJ Sapong from Sporting Kansas City and Fernando Aristeguieta from Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, so Casey will be a bench option up top. This will be great for him I feel, as he still has the skills to be an impact player but his body simply can't handle the punishment of consistently playing 80-90 minutes.
Predicted Union lineup (from Brotherly Game): Raïs M'Bolhi; Raymon Gaddis, Steven Vitoria, Ethan White, Sheanon Williams; Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira; Andrew Wenger, Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux; Fernando Aristeguieta
Predicted score: Provided the season actually starts on time, I think the Union will go out with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. 3-1 Union.
Thanks so much to Eugene for chatting with us today...Head on over to Brotherly Game for my thoughts on this match with the Union.