In the past two seasons the Rapids have gone 1-1-1 in their first three games. In 2016, they went L-W-T, and in 2017 it was flipped with a W-L-T. The Rapids are 0-1-1 so far with the loss in New England and the heartbreaking tie against Sporting KC last week. Today’s match is against the unbeaten Philadelphia Union and the Rapids could continue the trend of going 1-1-1 in their first three games of the season.
It won’t be easy, but the Union does have a very young back line. Left Back Fabinho suffered a sprained MCL and will be out about as long as Kortne Ford. In theory, the next man up is Mathew Real, who is 18. The rest of the Union back line is Auston Trusty (19 years old), Jack Elliott (22 years old), and Keegan Rosenberry (24 years old). The Union have also played only two games thus far so the fact that the defense hasn’t let in a goal yet isn’t too concerning; but the Rapids defense has allowed four, which is.
Dominique Badji and Joe Mason will have to make sure to keep the defenders guessing as to who is doing what and running where. A two-striker set up means that the opposing defenders will have to be twice as alert, as they can sometimes get isolated if they track a forward too far out of position. This is where the Rapids will look to capitalize.
Speculation and hope surrounding the return of Stefan Aigner and Shkelzen Gashi continue to rise with tweets stating that they have been training with the team. As someone who has been at and a part of these training's for the past 5+ years let me clarify that does not mean that they are ready to start.
Newly-acquired striker Yannick Boli has also joined the team in training, but again this does not mean that he is ready to start today. FIFA 18 does not force you to sit a new transfer, or make you wait through the rigorous endeavor that is all the legal paperwork. Real life can suck at times. Now, he does look fit and isn’t a step behind, so like Joe Mason, we could see Boli make his debut soon.
Philly has yet to lose, but they also haven’t been on the road yet. Last year the Union were 1-10-6 on the road. Meanwhile, the Rapids continue to build the fortress that is Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, remaining unbeaten at home (coincidentally also when the Voice of C38 does a tailgate interview!).
Predicted starting XI: Tim Howard; Deklan Wynne, Danny Wilson, Tommy Smith; Marlon Hairston, Johan Blomberg, Jack Price, Stefan Aigner; Dom Badji, Joe Mason.
OUT: Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain), Shkelzen Gashi (calf)
QUESTIONABLE: Ilsinho (right hamstring strain)
OUT: Fabinho (meniscus tear, MLS sprain), Richie Marquez (sports hernia surgery), Fafa Picault (suspended)
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Saturday, March 31 at 7:00 pm MT
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park - Commerce City
TV Information: AltitudeTV
Live Stream: MLS Live (blackouts apply)
C38 Tailgate (Starts at 4 pm)
Guest Player: Eric Miller (@ 5:30pm)