UZ, of SB Nation's Colorado Rapids blog Burgundy Wave, and I chatted, ahead of today's Philadelphia Union-Rapids game in Colorado. To read the second half of the discussion, over on Burgundy Wave, click here.
Scott Kessler: What do you think the outcome of Omar Cumming's return from the Gold Cup will be? Is there a possibility that he will play today? And how about Tyrone Marshall, who did the same as Cummings?
UZ: Omar skipping the Gold Cup is probably more due to his still being injured than anything. If he's even on the bench today, I'll be shocked. That was a serious ankle sprain that he suffered and coach Smith prefers to not play injured players even for a little while until they're completely healthy again. Just look at Casey's missing so long for a simple hamstring sprain.
Marshall is probably not going with Jamaica just to be a kind and loving soul to the injury ravaged Rapids. He should play today, and thank goodness that's the case especially with Drew Moor questionable with hamstring problems. Now obviously we have to talk about that slaughter in Toronto. What happened there that was different from the rest of the season? Toronto even outshot the Union and still lost 6-2.
SK: Toronto had really ugly shooting. They were painful to watch in every facet of the game. Even their two goals were awful to watch, mostly because of how poor the Union looked on both. For the first time in the Union's history, the midfield won a game for the team - as a unit. That's what really happened for the Union. There have been times in the past when a midfielder has made a big difference, like Roger Torres as a late game sub or Shea Salinas versus the Houston Dynamo early last year, but the midfield has never been the most important part of the line up before.
Brian Carroll was brilliant with his distribution from the back and provided a ton of needed last minute defense, even going so far as to make up for fullbacks at some points, because of Nowak's emphasis on using them up the wings. Kyle Nakazawa had his finest day as a professional, the best display of his potential since last year's second game against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Justin Mapp finally put in a full day's work. He's always been a guy that gives a short amount of time where he shows his talent, but then cools off. Against Toronto he stayed alive the entire game.
Gabriel Farfan followed up his brother's fantastic debut at midfield with an even better display in the midfield. He even equaled his brother's one goal midfield debut. Sebastien Le Toux was creating and annoying the defense. He's still not at his 2010 level in the least, but it was great to see him start to gain some traction on getting there. Danny Mwanga netted two goals, which was excellent for his confidence. With another game where he and Le Toux can have their partnership from 2010 rekindled, we could see some fun play between the two against Colorado.
UZ: So Philadelphia was good at just about everything while Toronto was not, got it. I only saw the first 30 minutes and it was painful to watch Toronto playing.
SK: I think that's a fair synopsis of Toronto's entire season.
UZ: Hey, they were good in that one game against Houston for like 20 minutes. They'll take what they can get up there, I think.
SK: Bringing Dutch style soccer to MLS is fine by me, but I think that Toronto was one of the worst teams to try to make it happen in one season with.
UZ: You mean to tell me that you're not expecting brilliant TOTAL FOOTBALL out of them within the month? Actually, that would probably go from terrible to hilarious really quickly. They should go for it.
SK: Aren't they already hilariously terrible?
UZ: They're terrible but just at the point where it's just painful to watch. Just on the edge of hilarious. But back to the game on Saturday - I think Toronto have heard enough taunting laughter. And by Saturday I mean today.
SK: And by today you mean tonight.
UZ: And by tonight you mean 7 PM Mountain Time. Anyway, I don't know the Farfan brothers too well, which one is better if there is a difference and where do the two play?
SK: They're both twins who look exactly alike, though Gabriel has a soul patch now so they're easier to differentiate. Michael is the more accomplished of them, with two All-American awards during his time at UNC in college. Gabriel went as high as Club America's reserves before coming back to the USA with the Union. They're able to play on either side of the midfield or as either fullback, but Michael favors the left and Gabriel favors the right for both positions. Gabriel has a ton of flair and isn't afraid to be aggressive with his technical skill, even if it puts him in a tough position in regard to ball possession.
Michael is much more reserved with his dribbling, more conservative. He does have similar, if not better, moves and is probably the better of the two at distribution.
UZ: Soon they could be the Sedins of MLS. They're going to need to get a bit creepier though
SK: Or the brothers that used to dominate on Ottawa.
UZ: I choose to forget times that Ottawa dominated. I'm a bitter man, which any Sabres fan could be, really
SK: Ha. So what's up with the Rapids of late? Why are they, in the words of MLSsoccer.com, "stagnate"?
UZ: I hate to use the injury excuse, but it really has torn the Rapids to shreds since the second game of the year against Chivas USA. Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Caleb Folan, Pablo Mastroeni, Jamie Smith, Anthony Wallace, Marvell Wynne... the list goes on and on of players who have missed time this season. At one point the Rapids were actually using one of their backup defensive midfielders up top at striker, that's how bad it's been. I have no idea if this is Karma for last year when the Rapids were fairly good when it came to injuries but it's been ridiculous.
Obviously, missing Brian Mullan for 10 games has also destroyed a chunk of our outlet play from the midfield. The offense has also been underwhelming. Conor Casey has only started three games so that's a reason why, but a lot of players who were very good at the start of the year have dropped off a bit like Quincy Amarikwa and Sanna Nyassi. Andre Akpan has shown promise but nobody else seems to be taking shots recently for whatever reason - as they pointed out in the Brotherly Game preview, 2/3 of Colorado's goals have come from inside the box since they don't seem to enjoy shooting from outside.
You can tell it's bad when our leading goalscorer is a defensive midfielder. Fortunately, against the New York Red Bulls the team looked like they had a lot more pep than before and they weren't slouches against Sporting KC either. Sadly, today's match is probably going to be a draw as well unless Philly can explode for 6 goals again. It's doubtful that will happen though, Colorado's defense is a bit better than Toronto's. Unless Drew Moor is missing, of course.
In that case, shoot me.
SK: In that case, ahahaha!
UZ: :( - Really this game is going to be very different depending on who manages to hobble out on the field for the Rapids today. Heck, I can't even tell you what formation we'll run since they went through three formations last game alone.