The Colorado Rapids found more success against the Eastern Conference on Sunday, as the Union squandered a half-hour man advantage to fall 2-1.
After Jeff Larentowicz was sent off after a second yellow card, the Rapids were able to beat Philadelphia on the break. Tony Cascio, 14th overall pick in the 2012 SuperDraft, outfoxed Chris Albright on a ball near the sideline. Cascio broke in on keeper Zac MacMath, eluded a Carlos Valdes challenge, and fired a shot that MacMath could only deflect into the goal.
Peter Nowak left team captain Danny Califf on the bench for the match. After the match, Nowak indicated that Califf was not in complete health for the match even though he was one of the seven substitutes named.
Instead, Nowak relied on a defense that looked similar to the diamond 4 you might see in high school soccer. Panamanian midfielder Gabriel Gomez played as a stopper, and Carlos Valdes was the requisite sweeper between Chris Albright and Porfirio Lopez. Gomez did fold in next to Carlos Valdes on occasion to maintain possession at the back.
Philadelphia had the better of the first half play, with more chances at goal, but their finishing touch let them down. Danny Mwanga had an excellent chance to open the scoring after Michael Farfan chipped over the defense into Mwanga’s path. The third-year striker redirected the ball, but Matt Pickens was right there to grab it and save the goal.
In the second half, Colorado’s minor tweaks earned them a lead. Omar Cummings was able to take advantage of the wide space down the left. He floated a cross barely over MacMath’s outstretched hands, and Jaime Castrillon was in the perfect spot to knock the ball into the net.
Larentowicz then went in hard on a tackle and drew his second yellow in the 58th minute. That may have given Philadelphia a false sense of security. Less than four minutes later, Cascio beat Albright and MacMath and made it a two goal cushion.
Philadelphia was able to pull back a goal in the 67th minute. Roger Torres, who came on only 4 minutes earlier, curled a ball into danger, and Colombian striker Lionard Pajoy headed it past Pickens for his first MLS goal. Pajoy was a physical presence all match, and appears to be the pure target forward Nowak has desired.
That was it for Philadelphia though. They were able to generate a lot of pressure in Colorado’s half, but they squandered many of those chances. The Colorado defense, with the veteran presence of Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor, were resolute in knocking back the Union efforts. Pajoy had a glorious chance in the 89th minute from just inside the 18-yard line, but his shot just missed high and wide. The Rapids were able to close out the victory, making it 2-0-0 versus Eastern Conference teams.
The Union get back into the Eastern Conference next, as they travel to Toyota Park to face the Chicago Fire. The Fire came back to draw the Montreal Impact yesterday in front of a 50,000-plus crowd at Olympic Stadium. Colorado will continue on the East Coast on Saturday, taking on another struggling team, the New York Red Bulls. New York fell to Real Salt Lake yesterday, and you can find the match report here.
Philadelphia (3-1-4-2) – MacMath; Albright (Torres 63′), Valdes, Lopez; Gomez; Williams, M. Farfan, Carroll (Martinez 79′), Daniel (Hernandez 72′); Mwanga, Pajoy
Colorado (4-3-3) Pickens; Kimura, Moor, Wynne, Zapata; Mastroeni (Labauex 76′), Larentowicz, Castrillon; Mullan, Cummings (Amerikwa 83′), Cascio (Thompson 68′)
COL -Castrillon (Cummings, 56′)
COL – Cascio (62′)
PHI – Pajoy (Torres, 67′)
PHI – Gomez (31′, Caution)
COL – Larentowicz (44′, Caution)
PHI – M. Farfan (52′, Caution)
COL – Larentowicz (58′, Ejection)
COL – Castrillon (74, Caution)
PHI – Torres (91, Caution)