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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Union-Rapids: Lineups and pregame thoughts for the opener

UNION (4-4-2)
Wenger-Edu-Nogueira-Le Toux
Bench: McCarthy, Fabinho, Marquez, Lahoud, Pfeffer, Maidana, Casey

Colorado Rapids (4-2-3-1) 
Sarvas- Pittinari
Sanchez-Serna- Torres
Bench: Berner, Burch, O’Neill, Alvarez, Cronin, Brown

Rest assured, PPL Park has shed its frosted look since Thursday.
(Times Staff/TOM KELLY IV)

- The lingering tactical debate for Jim Curtin this season is whether he’d opt for a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-3-2. For the debut, it’s nominally a 4-4-2, with the potential to morph into a 4-2-4. Cristian Maidana starts on the bench with CJ Sapong operating as a second striker behind Fernando Aristeguieta.

- Out with injury is Danny Cruz (hamstring), meaning we won’t get a repeat of this ugly tackle from Shane O’Neill this season.

- Because of the injury to Andre Blake, John McCarthy gets to dress in his Union debut. The 22-year-old Philly native figures to be the backup while Blake is away at the Gold Cup this summer, so might as well gets his feet wet from the get-go.

- It’ll be interesting to see how Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira align themselves in midfield. Curtin’s likely sees Nogueira pushing forward more to take some of Maidana's play-making role, and the spacing against and exploitable Rapids midfield will be crucial. 

- There will be no PPL Park return for Zac MacMath, with the terms of his season-long loan to the Rapids stipulating that he can’t play against his parent club in any competitions. That gives Clint Irwin the start and the leg up on the season-long battle for the No. 1 gloves.

- The Rapids are also without central defender Drew Moor (ACL), meaning Bobby Burling gets the start with hulking rookie Axel Sjoberg. That’s a 6-5 veteran and a 6-7 rookie. Not the most fleet of foot.

- The central midfield is completely rebuilt, with Marcelo Sarvas coming over from the Galaxy (and assuming the captaincy) and Lucas Pittinari on loan from Argentina. Two of Colorado’s main building pieces, Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown, start on the bench, a relief given that both scored in this fixture last year.

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