With MLS Decision Day looming, the Colorado Rapids did themselves no favor in improving their chances of moving closer to a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The East leading Philadelphia Union and their spirited supporters spanked the Rapids 6-0 in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Jim Curry's Union came out in a huff and scored three times in the first 30 minutes of match play. They piled on the final seven minutes and sent the Rapids to Nashville without a happy end.
Coming into the showdown, the Rapids had hoped for a major league upset or at least one point. However, neither were within reach after their sluggish start.
Philadelphia came out attacking and had the Rapids back-peddling until the fans left for the parking lots.
In the eighth minute of play, Daniel Gazdag scored the first goal of his eventual hat trick on the evening.
Eleven minutes later, he found the back of the on a blistering penalty kick after he was yanked to the ground by inside the 18-yard box.
Gazdag slapped the PK past Yarbrough for his 15th goal of the season.
More back luck rained on the Rapids when center back Danny Wilson went down hard on the pitch. He was tended to; however, he was unable to return to play. Rapids head coach Robin Fraser summoned Lalas Abubakar from the bench to replace the disabled Wilson.
Once again, Lady Luck backed the Union when Oli Mbaizo tumbled inside Philly's box. The in-stadium video replay left viewers thinking that he slipped himself up. Yet the VAR crew in MLS Headquarters agreed that a touchy foul occurred.
Julian Carranza went to the spot and scored easily to make the score 3-nil.
Minutes later, Rapids' testy defender, Gustavo Vallecilla earned his second yellow of the game and ultimately a red card after he knocked out Union's striker, Mikael Uhre, on the sideline. Vallecilla, was sent, head and shoulders, to the showers.
For the next 60-plus minutes, the Rapids played with 10 men and chased the Union until the final minute.
Remarkably, the Colorado held off Philadelphia's multitude of sorties. Then, with seven minutes left to play, the wheels came off Rapids' parked bus, and the Union scored three more times.
Pour a ice cold pop and watch Philadelphia's goal-scoring clinic, start to finish. It certainly was an impressive exhibition, earned fouls included, from the first place, 15W-9D-4L, Union.
Postgame, Rapids striker Gyasi Zardes was asked about the Rapids' collective effort to defend against the hungry blood-thirsty Union.
"Yeah, you know, you made a good point at the beginning: we defend as a team. It's s not just on the defenders—we're a group. We're one. We win together, we lose together. I felt like, at the beginning of the game, they didn't find their pivots. They were successful when they sprayed that long ball." He added," And they capitalize on the counter, which they are a good counter-attacking team, so that question is difficult to answer because we were already playing down a guy and playing down a goal."
During his postmatch press conference, Rapids' coach Robin Fraser said, "More than anything, I'm just disappointed in the individual mistakes. We keep getting snake-bitten by individual mistakes. Obviously, once we had the red card, the game changed completely." The cool and calm yet getting frustrated skipper continued, "At that point, it was a matter of trying to be solid defensively. It's one thing to give up two goals in 15 minutes. That certainly has happened far too often this season, but then to go down three goals and down a man at 30 [minutes] I think, it's definitely always going to be an uphill challenge."
The Rapids arrived in Nashville this morning and will continue to purge their memory of the bludgeoning loss in eastern Pennsylvania. Very soon thereafter, they have to reset their minds on toppling Nashville SC in their new and often sold-out, 30,000-seat venue, the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and Canada.
GEODIS stadium is the envy of all MLS stadium complexes.
This past May, Nashville smoked the Rapids, 3-1, at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park. Last night, they blanked the Vancouver Whitecaps, 3-0, in British Columbia.
The 10W-9D-9L Yellow and Black currently sit in 5th place in the Western Conference with 39 points. The Rapids are still looking up from 11th place with 32 points.
As has been said for weeks, the Burgundy Boys need to run the table and pick up three points here and there in order to move up to the last playoff spot- the elusive #7, if not even higher in the very compact Western Conference table.
On Wednesday evening, they will seek revenge and three much-needed points against head coach Gary Smith's assertive men.
Against Philadelphia, the Rapids only managed to get five shots off, with only one landing on target. Against Nashville, they will need to improve their time of possession and shots on target exponentially.
The ball is in the Rapids side of the pitch, and they control their destiny in the final six weeks of the regular season. Anything can still happen. Perhaps Lady Luck will team up with them and carry the team on her shoulders into October's playoffs.