COMMERCE CITY, CO - JUNE 04: Kyle Nakazawa #13 of the Philadelphia Union is fouled by Pablo Mastroeni #25 of the Colorado Rapids as they vie for a head ball at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on June 4, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
History has been made tonight
in the finest game between two Olympic diving teams I've ever seen in two different ways for the Colorado Rapids with their 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union, although the niceties of this history might be in question. Colorado not only set themselves in the position of having their longest undefeated streak in team history with eight games getting at least a point, but also set the MLS record for most draws in a row with their last six games yielding only a point.
The game began with a pretty good line-up featuring an Andre Akpan and Conor Casey top line and Drew Moor overcoming hamstring tightness to get the start and continue his ironman streak. The game was fairly even in the first few minutes of play but Philly had the better of the chances. Justin Mapp created the first chance of the game for either side 10 minutes in, while a 12th minute free kick by Kyle Nakazawa forced Matt Pickens into a beautiful save.
With Conor Casey getting double and triple teamed by the Philly defense, he opened up space for Akpan and the now-healthy Jamie Smith to get balls forward. Colorado had to wait for a free kick before getting their first chance of the game in the 19th minute as Andre Akpan zipped the ball just wide of the post. Akpan continued to get looks on set pieces and during open play, with more shots including a 21st minute buzzer that Wallace almost knocked in on the rebound of a Fayrd Mondragon save. Philly ended the half still with no goals but with the better possession and attempts on goal, although the Rapids did have a flurry of activity in the final moments of stoppage time.
Quincy Amarikwa was the only sub for the second half, coming in for Akpan in a surprising move. In an interesting twist, the Rapids struck first on not the first but the second questionable penalty called for them on the season. Pablo Mastroeni took the ball into the box and was slammed into but not quite hard enough to justify his embellishment on the play. The referee seemed to disagree with the furious Philly protests and Conor Casey launched a soft looper into the left side of the net away from Mondragon for the first goal of the match and his second of the season. Casey is now on a two game goal-scoring streak, although like last year he's probably going to need a PK or two to keep such a streak alive.
Just like the New York game again, the lead wouldn't last. A mere four minutes after the penalty was converted, Danny Mwanga took a ball about 25 yards out and released a pretty shot past a stunned but diving Matt Pickens to tie the game up. Caleb Folan came in for Conor Casey after that and the offensive opportunities for both teams pretty much dried up. Another day, another draw for the Colorado Rapids.
An interesting note on the game was how much the referee was getting involved, no doubt in part because both teams seemed to show an eagerness to dive. Anthony Wallace earned a yellow card early in the match thanks to a dive and the Rapids goal was pretty clearly an embellishment by Pablo. Just a strange note on a fairly ordinary game otherwise.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Pablo Mastroeni. Gotta hand it to him, that was obviously a masterful dive if it got a penalty called. He was shutdown in his defensive duties as well, but we've come to expect that from him.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Quincy Amarikwa. Ineffective as always, a detriment to the team by now. He is a complete annoyance to watch at this point, constantly offside, unable to settle a ball to save his life and all around slow to catch up to plays.