The Colorado Rapids only played about 20 good minutes of football on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union - and a chunk of that 20 minutes was spent with only 10 men on the field - but it was enough. The Rapids maintained their unbeaten all time record against the Union by squeaking out an incredibly sloppy 2-1 win in Philly thanks to a couple of their offseason acquisitions.
The first half of the game was slop, slop, slop for both sides. Philly had the better scoring chances but neither team really deserved a goal as the passing was atrocious all around. Both teams had under 70% completion of their passing chances and the result was a chippy affair filled with turnovers with almost every chance coming from a set piece. Colorado's back four and Matt Pickens kept the chances at bay, which kept the Rapids from suffering their mistakes too badly.
The ref wasn't helping matters either, as after a terrible non-call on Drew Moor at the start of the game he decided to call almost every single touch from either side, which slowed any possibly rhythm the game may have had to a crawl.The second half finally brought some action as the Rapids came out with a lot more spirit after the break, though with the same level of slop for a time. Chances were starting to come for them though, which was enough to keep them in the game as time ticked along. Finally, Jaime Castrillon hooked up with an Omar Cummings cross in the 56th minute to break the deadlock.
It looked like it would be full steam ahead for the Rapids at that point until Jeff Larentowicz - who had been making overly hard tackles all game long - was deservedly red carded after a second yellow only two minutes after the goal was scored, changing the outlook of the game completely. At least, completely until Tony Cascio opened his MLS account. Cascio took advantage of Chris Albright falling over and giving him a beautiful breakaway to snap one past Zac MacMath for his first ever MLS goal in his second MLS game.
Colorado with 10 men couldn't keep Philly away forever though and Lionard Pajoy snuck through the back four to put it back to 2-1 on a great cross from Roger Torres. Philly finally breaking through gave the Union some extra confidence and the shots started to come more often as the Rapids moved into complete counterattack mode, which almost yielded results a few times.
In the 79th minute, Omar Cummings frustratingly screwed up a chip over an onrushing Zac MacMath, a chance that he could have effectively ended the game with. It was the best chance other than the Cascio goal that the Rapids had with 10 men. Late substitute Quincy Amarikwa couldn't finish a similar breakout opportunity in the 87th minute.
Pajoy almost got a brace and became the Philly hero with a curling shot that agonizingly missed the top corner by inches in the 89th minute, and Philly - along with some puzzling non-calls by referee Mark Geiger in Philly's favor - started to pile on the chances after that. Four minutes of added time gave plenty of added tension but the Union couldn't get past Colorado's time wasting and for the second year in a row, a sloppy finish led to a Colorado victory.
It's not likely that the New York Red Bulls will allow a win under such sloppy conditions, so hopefully this game was simply a growing pains game more than an indicator as to how the rest of the season will go.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jaime Castrillon. Scored the opening goal in his second MLS match and looked great the whole day, could have scored a few more honestly.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Jeff Larentowicz. Originally I had Kosuke Kimura here because his game was sub-par, but the Rapids probably would have won a bit more convincingly if Jeff hadn't been tackling so hard all game long.