Union-Rapids Preview

The Colorado Rapids are in position for their first playoff

berth since 2006 largely because of a string of dominating

performances at home.

Even with leading goal scorer Conor Casey suspended, they’d

likely be unsatisfied with anything besides three points Wednesday

night against the Philadelphia Union, who’ve lost 10 of their 13

road games.

The Rapids (10-7-8) haven’t conceded a goal at home since July

31 against FC Dallas, building a shutout streak of 428 minutes

while extending their home unbeaten run to nine.

They’ve won their last three home matches by 3-0 scores, twice

getting goals in the first five minutes while improving to 7-1-4 at

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“When you start off games like we have with the last three home

games scoring quickly, goals seem to come easier and it is

definitely something you want to recreate every time you come out

and play,” Casey said after the Rapids beat New England in their

last home match Sept. 18.

Colorado, which holds a five-point lead on Kansas City for the

final MLS playoff spot, can all but secure the berth by winning

both home games this week, including a matchup with league-worst

D.C. on Saturday.

“We go back home for two games in a very good mood, a confident

mood, to try to see ourselves in the postseason,” coach Gary Smith

said after a 1-all tie at Real Salt Lake last Saturday.

Casey scored his 11th goal but also picked up his fifth yellow

card, earning him a suspension for Wednesday’s match.

It’s unclear if Omar Cummings will be able to help pick up the

slack. The Jamaican forward has five goals in his last four games,

boosting his season total to 10, but he missed last weekend’s match

with a sprained left ankle.

Macoumba Kandji may get his second consecutive start after the

Rapids acquired the striker from New York on Sept. 14.

Colorado will need to find a goal somewhere in order to win a

fifth consecutive home game, but it may help to be facing

Philadelphia, which has allowed 26 goals while going 2-10-1 on the

road.

The Union (7-12-6), however, may be more confident than ever

after the most lopsided victory of their inaugural season, 3-0 over

Chivas USA on Saturday. Sebastien Le Toux capped the scoring with

his 12th goal – two behind MLS leader Edson Buddle of Los

Angeles.

Coach Peter Nowak’s club has also shown some improved defense

lately, shutting out two of its last three opponents after allowing

at least one goal in its first 22 games.

“I think the big thing is continuity and getting to know each

other better,” captain Danny Califf told the Union’s official

website. “We put an onus on trying to be better defensively one to

11, so I think that’s starting to pay off.”

In their first meeting, these teams played to a 1-all tie Aug.

14 at Philadelphia.