The Colorado Rapids not only shocked the Philadelphia Union, they shocked me as well. My prediction was that at best we'd end up with an entertaining 2-2 draw. But after a Pablo Mastroeni golazo (yes, I can say that now) and another beautiful combination play from Omar Cummings and Sanna Nyassi, Philadelphia was left scrambling for a result. In the end, they only found the back of the net once when Roger Torres found only Matt Pickens between himself and the goal.
More commentary after the jump.
Philadelphia didn't disappoint me when they came out confident in possession and in attacking. Philly had an unbelievable 20 attempts on goal the the Rapids' 9, and nearly 10% more possession. The Rapids played on the counter, especially in the second half, which was dominated by the Union searching for a way to keep their winning streak in tact.
This was almost exactly the style of game wherein I thought the Rapids would have the best chance of winning. And I was alternately delighted and horrified by the end result as the Union couldn't seem to put a ball in the back of the onion bag. As could be seen from the statistics on the night: it wasn't due to lack of created chances.
It was a good night for Matt Pickens to have a career evening. In the 110 degree heat and near 1 Million Degree humidity (if Gary Smith is to be believed), the Rapids keeper made 5 incredible reaction saves to keep Philadelphia from getting back into the game. Undoubtably, in my opinion, Pickens was the man of the match.
The Rapids offense, predictably when playing on the counter, was in fits and starts. Very little buildup, trying to catch the Union defense on a breakaway. Faryd Mondragon did not have an easy night. Peter Nowak had to have been unhappy with his back four, especially Carlos Valdes.
Pablo Mastroeni was able to create enough space for himself after fooling Carlos Valdes to make a tight curling shot into the back 90 of the goal. Valdes was victimized yet again by Colorado when Sanna Nyassi ghosted him to receive a cutting pass from Omar Cummings for the second goal of the night. It just didn't seem to me like Valdez even knew Nyassi was speeding around behind him, and even if he did, he seemed helpless to stop the Gambian from slotting in his fourth goal of the year. Cummings netting his 6th assist (though no goals tonight, unfortunately).
Things didn't get better for Philadelphia when Sheanon Williams decided that he'd had it for the night and practically begged the referee for a Red Card ejection. In what was one of the most silly and unprofessional moments I have seen in MLS, Williams took a hard foul from a clumsy and mostly ineffective Wells Thompson and then proceded to goad and abuse Jorge Gonzales (the man with the colorful cards in his pocket) until he saw red in the 62nd minute, leaving his team to play a man down when they were desperately searching for two goals to keep their home unbeaten streak in tact.
Insipid is the word that most readily comes to mind. Absolutely insipid. Say it with me.
Philly continued to push for the result till the very last minute, and after a Roger Torres goal, they almost got it. If not for Matt Pickens and yet another great reaction save, Philly would have had their second goal.
In the end, it was an exciting affair at PPL Park, with almost 30 attempts on goal and a foul count below 20. I like to say that makes it a fairly good game--if the foul count is lower than the shots taken. Gary Smith and his Colorado Rapids can come home with three points and perhaps not just a little more respect.