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Four questions with Matt Pollard of Burgundy Wave



Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

With little time between the club’s U.S. Open Cup loss to Minnesota United on Tuesday and now, the Philadelphia Union are back in action with a match against the Colorado Rapids as the group focuses solely on MLS play for the next few weeks.

We reached out to Matt Pollard and our friends over at Burgundy Wave to get some insight on the Union’s Saturday night opponent.

Philadelphia Soccer Now: It’s been a rough start to the season for Colorado, what’s gone wrong?

Matt Pollard: Injuries and new players needing time to get settled.

This squad had a number of serious injuries last year and those players were still coming back from rehab in preseason. As depth players got fit into preseason, starters got hurt. Diego Rubio had a loose body in his knee and missed the first few weeks of the season. Captain Jack Price tore his Achilles minutes into his home debut. He’s a huge loss for the year. There have been games they’ve had no true fullback depth with one two players fit. Now you’ve got Max Alves potentially getting suspended/banned while Cole Bassett’s got a hamstring injury. For a budget team, you can’t afford to be missing pieces like that.

Secondly, it’s taken time for the new players to settle in and make an impact. The Rapids rebuilt the defense this winter. Andreas Maxsø has been amazing at center back. Alex Gersbach got torn apart on the left flank in Seattle the first game of the season and is taking time to adjust to MLS. Fraser’s been playing Sam Nicholson out of position while that happens. Connor Ronan gets brought in to boss the midfield with Price, who then gets hurt, forcing Ronan to become Price in some games.

Then there’s Kévin Cabral. He needed a bit more time to get fit in preseason. Gradually, he’s been getting more minutes. He did have his best game yet at LA Galaxy last weekend, scoring the winning goal.

PSN: On the flip side, the Rapids have pulled out a couple of wins, including one last week against the LA Galaxy. What’s gone right for the team?

MP: It started with the defense. They started the first few games in a back four, but Fraser gradually returned to the back three/five that helped them be successful in 2021. Maxsø built chemistry with the players around him. William Yarbrough is back to his 2021 form as well. Big saves when the opponent attacks in waves. Wearing the armband and leading with Price out. The midfield’s adjusted in shape and assignments with Price gone for the year.

Now that the attack is getting it together, they’re playing well and getting results.

The team still needs to get healthy and they’re about to enter a tough stretch. Philly this weekend. At Atlanta midweek. A double header with RSL thanks to the Open Cup draw. Then they play both Ohio teams and San Jose. If it’s June 8 and they’re in a playoff spot and the Semifinals of the Open Cup, Fraser should be a COTY candidate.

PSN: Who’s been the star for Colorado thus far? Who should Union fans watch?

MP: Ronan and Maxsø have been the two biggest additions. Maxsø is the ideal Rapids center back. Big, strong, good in the air including on set pieces, and he makes few mistakes at the back that lead to goals. Ronan’s a very well-rounded midfielder. He’s played both roles in a double pivot during this unbeaten stretch. He’s taking set pieces now with Bryan Acosta and Price out. He had an assist on all three goals at LA last weekend.

Diego Rubio is the focal point for the attack, especially in transition. One goal and three assists in seven games. Look for him to press in the field, win the ball, and find the wide players running into space. In the final third, he’ll be sharp on the ball, creating chances for himself and others. If the Union were to game plan around one player to stop the Rapids attack in this match, it’s Rubio.

Union fans should know about Lalas Abubakar, Jonathan Lewis, and Cabral, who are all in good form as well. The battles between the center backs on corners are going to be huge in this game.

PSN: Will the Rapids have any notable absences? What are your lineup and score predictions?

MP: Several. Let’s start with Max Alves. He’d been filling in for Bassett as a tandem with Rubio in a 3-4-2-1. He was so much better than last year but news broke on Wednesday that he’s under investigation in Brazil for participating in a sports betting scheme. Every update to this story sounds worse and worse. He was the big U22 signing last year and it’s very possible his MLS career or soccer career as a whole is over. Bassett is still hurt and Galvan’s just coming back from injury, so they’re thin at that spot. Acosta and Steven Beitashour are questionable, and those are two valuable veterans who can provide depth. Darren Yapi made the U-20 World Cup squad (where he’ll be competing with Quin Sullivan for minutes), so expect Cabral and/or Lewis up top as a false No. 9.

Lineup: Yarbrough (C), Wilson, Maxsø, Abubakar, Nicholson, Leyva, Ronan, Rosenberry, Lewis, Rubio, Cabral

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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