MLS: Union aim for third straight win as they visit Rapids

The Philadelphia Union will look for a third consecutive MLS win when they visit a Colorado Rapids side that is hard to beat at home.

The Union (4-4-2, 14 points) are defending Eastern Conference champions and have been balancing league play with a run to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.

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And following their elimination at that stage at the hands of LAFC, Philadelphia responded with a 1-0 win at the New York Red Bulls last Saturday decided by Daniel Gazdag’s first-half penalty kick.

But their trip to Colorado comes at the end of a stretch of three consecutive matches away from home in all competitions. On Tuesday night, Philadelphia lost on penalties in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup following a 3-3 draw at Minnesota United.

And Colorado has always proven a difficult destination for opponents, even if the Rapids (2-3-6, 12 points) are still seeking their first home victory of the season. They’ve lost only four league games at home since the start of the 2021 season, including three draws this season (0-1-3).

“It’s a tough test,” Union manager Jim Curtin insisted. “Robin Fraser, I think, is a top coach in this league and has his team playing well. They’re really tough to break down and tough to beat. So we’ll have to be perfect on the day. And obviously, we go into the elements a bit with the altitude and the travel.”

Jonathan Lewis has scored in consecutive games for Colorado, in a 3-1 league win at the LA Galaxy last Saturday and a 4-2 U.S. Open Cup victory at second-tier Sacramento Republic on Tuesday night.

But the Rapids are without a breakout scorer so far in league play — Michael Barrios and Kevin Cabral each have two goals, and five others including Lewis have one.

It means they usually can’t afford to repeat defensive sequences like on Tuesday when Sacramento scored twice in the opening hour before by being reduced to 10 men.

Fraser isn’t overly concerned, given that in league play his team has conceded only eight times in 10 matches since March began.

“In those moments it wasn’t good,” Fraser said of conceding those goals on Tuesday. “But if you look at what we’ve done for the last 10 weeks or eight weeks or whatever it’s been, our defending in the box has been excellent.”

–Field Level Media

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