I chatted with UZ of SB Nation's Colorado Rapids sites, Burgundy Wave, to preview today's game between the 2010 MLS Cup champions and the Philadelphia Union.
Scott Kessler: What are the feelings like out in Colorado about Conor Casey's return?
UZ: As it was when he was still here, there's a split. There's a small subset of Rapids fans that never liked Casey and are glad that he's away from the team now, though I like to think they're the minority. I'm of the mind that we never should have gotten rid of the guy, but I think even his biggest fans like myself are OK with his leaving following the very busy off-season and the promising first game we saw out of the new team that Oscar Pareja assembled. I expect he'll get a warm reception from the fans at DSGP if he ever sees time on the pitch, just as Kosuke Kimura did when he returned as a Timber after being traded. (If Casey plays just as terribly as Kimura did in said first game back, all the better for us, I suppose.)
SK: How will former Union forward Danny Mwanga be utilized with the Rapids? How does his acquisition impact the development of Deshorn Brown, who the Brotherly Game was informed was wanted by the Union in the draft this year?
UZ: It's going to depend on just how good Mwanga does for the Rapids in practice. We've all seen the fabulous potential that the guy has, but after two years of somewhat languishing on teams that did not want him that severely, it's up to him to prove to Pareja that he's worthy of a starting spot. As it stands right now, he's in a four-deep battle at center forward with Brown, established name Edson Buddle and similar young up-and-comer Andre Akpan. Brown and Buddle will probably be getting the lion's share of the starting minutes unless Mwanga can pull some 2010 form in practice out of his hat, so I'm seeing him used mostly as a 65th minute substitute to add fresh legs to the attack late in games, getting spot starts during times of fixture congestion.
SK: Will the snow positively impact the Rapids because of their experience with the weather in Colorado, or will the game become a sloppy mess of a match?
UZ: Actually, the snow might be a detriment to our guys if anything. While Gary Smith's team was perfectly suited to playing in awful weather conditions and had plenty of guys who were used to that sort of thing, the Rapids these days are filled with a bunch of guys from South/Central America, California, Florida etc. So this might be a bit of a surprise to them. I expect the match to be a pretty hilarious slog, especially if it's true that 10 inches are coming down. Orange ball and they also painted the lines on the field orange, it's gonna be a sight to see even if it won't be the best football match the world has ever known.
SK: BONUS - Predict the first goal scorer, the defender who makes the biggest mistake and which goalkeeper will be more maligned by the end of the game.
UZ: DeShorn Brown looked lethal at times against Dallas, and he'll want to find that first goal, so I'll give it to him. If Brian Mullan is playing left back in the snowstorm, I'm expecting he'll be the least effective defender on the pitch because of his already noticeable lack of speed, which will probably get magnified in bad weather. If it was Ceus vs. MacMath, I'd have no earthly idea because that sounds like a goalkeeper match made in hell. Since Matt Pickens seems likely to start though, I'm going to have to say MacMath will probably be the less effective keeper out there.
The game is set to kick off at 3 pm ET and is supposed to be on The Comcast Network in the Philadelphia area.