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Ten-man Rapids knock off mis-firing Union

RapidsLockerRoom (Getty)


CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union created a good number of chances in the first half of Sunday's match against Colorado, but they ultimately paid the price for not being able to put any of those chances in the net.

Despite losing Jeff Larentowicz to a red card, the Colorado Rapids scored two goals in a six-minute span and held on with only ten men to defeat the Philadelphia Union, 2-1, in the Union's home opener at PPL Park on Sunday.

After a lackluster first half in which both teams, especially the Union, missed some quality chances, Colorado found their feet when in the 56th minute, Omar Cummings sent a deceptive cross over the Union defense to Jaime Castrillon, who finished for his first career MLS goal. 

Things looked better for the Union, though, when two minutes later Jeff Larentowicz was shown a second yellow card for a harsh challenge on Keon Daniel. But instead of equalizing, the Union found themselves in a bigger hole when rookie Tony Cascio beat Chris Albright along the left flank and sent his shot past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to double Colorado's lead.

Philadelphia got a goal back when a good cross from substitute Roger Torres found Colombian forward Lionard Pajoy, who headed in a goal for the Union. But 10-man Colorado defended valiantly and held on for a 2-1 win, their second in two games to start the season.

"I'm very proud of my players. They got a result they deserve," said Rapids coach Oscar Pareja. "It's a hard place to play. Philadelphia did a good job of pressuring in the first half, taking the ball away from us. But the boys reacted well in the second half, all the credit goes to them."

Surprisingly, Union coach Peter Nowak left centerback Danny Califf on the bench to start the game. The result was a formation that was at times difficult to make out, with Gabriel Gomez dropping back into defense, Sheanon Williams pushing into attack, and newly signed Chris Albright starting at right back.

Philadelphia enjoyed a number of chances throughout the first half despite the lack of structure in its formation, but they failed to capitalize on a single one. Mwanga had the best opportunities, nearly drawing a penalty in the first minute. He also just missed latching onto a Michael Farfan pass in the 30th minute, surely leaving fans wishing the team hadn't dealt Sebastien Le Toux in the offseason.

After both teams went into halftime scoreless, Colorado came out strong in the second half, scoring two goals in quick succession. First, Jaime Castrillon finished an Omar Cummings cross in the 56th minute when MacMath couldn't clear the ball. And, despite going down to ten men, Colorado doubled their lead when rookie Tony Cascio burned Chris Albright along the right flank and beat MacMath six minutes later.

The Union made a strong push for a comeback, even scoring when Lionard Pajoy headed in a beautiful cross from Roger Torres in the 67th minute. But despite allowing the Union to get off 20 shots, Colorado held on for a valuable away win.

Colorado leaves Philadelphia with six points from two games, and may have found two gems in their goalscorers from Sunday, Tony Cascio and Jaime Castrillon.

"All of these experiences for these young boys are incredible," said Pareja of Cascio. "Sometimes you take the risk, because you have a guy playing his second game and the game is away in front of thousands of people, but this is want we want. We want to develop these players. (Cascio) had a great second half especially, in the first half he got through the adversity of not getting too much of the ball. I was very pleased with Tony."

"(Castrillon) had some difficulties finding the ball in the first half," said Pareja. "But in the second half, I thought he was outstanding, he did a great job defensively, and he scored a goal."

Meanwhile, the Union were left wondering how they couldn't finish all of the chances they created. It was a familiar feeling for the team, who suffered from poor finishing for most of the first half of the 2011 season as well.

"We're disappointed. I feel bad for the team," said Nowak. "In certain moments, we lost concentration here and there. Missing a touch, a final pass, it's the execution. I think we played much better than in Portland. We've got to stick to the plan and believe in what we're doing as a team."

Also left up in the air was the status of Califf, who had been serving as captain of the team since the departure of Faryd Mondragon. After the game, Nowak said Califf's knee was to blame for his absence Sunday.

"Danny still has a shot in his knee. The doctors, in the offseason, took a pretty big chunk of his meniscus," Nowak said. "When we started preseason, he didn't do anything until the first day. We went from zero to 100 in a pretty fast time. It's not only whether he's ready to play, it's whether he's going to be available for us, giving the performance we all expect."

Colorado, suddenly tied for first place in the Western conference with Vancouver and Real Salt Lake, will take on another East Coast opponent next week, as they travel to Red Bull Arena to face New York. Philadelphia, meanwhile, faces a near must-win situation next week as they travel to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire.


  1. Colorado was outplayed badly. Union outshot them 20 to 9, had 57% of the ball posession to 43% for the Rapids, Union completed 72% of thier passes, had more corner kicks, and hit the cross bar. Colorado scored 2 goals on horrible mistakes by McMath and Albright. Keep telling yourself Colorado played “very well” if it makes you feel better, but they actually played lousy. Union should have scored 5 goals easily but misfired the shots.

  2. The ONLY good thing about the first two weeks is that we lost to western division teams, not giving points to the eastern rivals.

    Last year was the “experimental year” with constant changes to the lineup. This was supposed to be the “consistant year”. Nowak didn’t get the memo.

  3. Lopez Is meh (have to keep in mind hes not used to MLS) not sure if that makes it ok that he seems a step or two behind plays. MacMath is so damn young and has so little experience that hes going to get a pass on some of these “easy saves” he should be making. He needs to keep it together and power through the mistakes. Nowak needs to solidify the defense, some of the defensive issues could be related to Mondy leaving as he was a beast back there and told people what to do. Mwanga needs to step it up, he really has to carry this team and earn his starting spot.

    Additionally leaving out Califf to prove a point and possibly costing the team 3 points gets nowak a tisk tisk. Assuming he was just punishing Califf for speaking so “openly” on the local news last week.

  4. My thoughts:

    MacMath is a liability so far.
    I like how Gomez pushed into midfield when Philly had the ball as Colorado only played one up top. Good stuff there.
    M. Farfan hasn’t make an impact in either game and he’s playing in a position (attacking midfield) in which he needs to have an impact.
    Hernandez made no impact and I don’t understand why they sent him on.
    Outside backs (Williams, Lopez) played better, but not great.
    Philly didn’t create many great chances, just a handful of average ones.

  5. @James, I don’t know about MacMath as the guy is making mistakes not because he doesn’t have ability, but because he lacks focus. The cross by which Colorado scored their first goal was not “deceptive” (as was written) at all. It went right through his hands. That’s two goals given away by MacMath in two games (the first goal for the opponent in both games).

    He’s a liability and doesn’t inspire any confidence at all. He runs around the ball when it’s passed back to him like a child would do (as opposed to addressing it). He bounces, hops and shuffles around when he has the ball in his hands, as opposed to calmly and authoritatively making a decision and executing. He just doesn’t seem to have the mental fortitude at the moment.

  6. Philly looked like the team that was down a player. Also some of their players (Torres!) are scummy players.

    Colorado, once again played very well. I never would have imagined they would have started out this well.

  7. The Union played like they were not in sync on some scoring chances. I think they had two no call penalties in the box. Our left back is garbage and Albright did not help matters today. I felt better about this loss than the one in Portland but if I don’t see any improvement next week and a win I think its time to start the sack race.

  8. What a Marvelous Wynne for the Rapids! Playing a man down they found a way to win. Castrillon looks legit and Philly looks like a wreck so far.

  9. I know it’s early, but I’m afraid this is the season we have ahead of us folks. Plus, Philly is about to wreck the mind of a promising young keeper.

    I would love to know if it was more long ball to no one stuff or if the short ground passing has taken any steps forward. That might be the silver lining if it is.

  10. How does the Union defense look the same this year, as last?!? They’ve given up 5 goals in 2 games already. I’m not sure they are going to be as strong as they were last year. I think it’s going to be a rough year for Philadelphia.

  11. Colorado played well. That looked poised and had great foresight. Very entertaining game, great work rate from the Rapids with 10 men.

  12. Union needs a new manager. Nowak has created an inadequate team this year. It’s more apparent that this young team is too inexperienced.

  13. Pajoy looks really good, he is going to be so good for us this year.
    As for McMath, another mistake but you NEED to keep him in there and have him work through it. Young GKs aren’t going to be flawless and pulling him out (or even thinking about it) is going to destroy him. Letting him battle through his growing pains will help us more in the long run.


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