Saturday, July 30, 2011

Union drop first home game this year

Chester, Pa. (July 29, 2011) - Playing a league match at PPL Park for the first time in more than a month, the Philadelphia Union dropped the first home game of the season 2-1 to the Colorado Rapids.

On a hot and humid evening in Chester, the Union (8-5-7) couldn’t break through a compressed Colorado (8-6-10) defense until late in stoppage time when Roger Torres netted his second goal of the season.

But the Rapids, who struggled through a 2-2 draw with New England in their previous MLS contest, used two first-half goals to hold onto the victory over the Union, who fell to 5-1-4 at home.  For Philadelphia, it was their first home loss since a 1-0 defeat to the LA Galaxy on October 7, 2010.

With momentum off a 1-0 victory over Everton and a strong performance in a 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in last week’s international matches, the Union pressed forward from the opening whistle, setting up the game’s first opportunity in the 2nd minute when a cleverly cut ball from Danny Mwanga found Justin Mapp on the right at the top of the box. But after touching towards the middle, Mapp sent the shot high and wide of frame.

In the 14th minute, Colorado built their first opportunity of the match as Pablo Mastroeni, who drew a penalty when the two teams met for the first time this season in Colorado, fired a shot over the bar from 20 yards out after strong combination play through the Union midfield.

Just one minute later, Sebastien Le Toux nearly set up Kyle Nakazawa in the box as the Union looked to open the scoring.  Racing onto a ball down the lefty wing, Le Toux sent a brilliant waist-high cross to the penalty spot where Nakazawa was unable to half-volley on goal.

With Philadelphia holding the ball in the Colorado half for extended periods of time, Sebastien Le Toux was taken down just on top of the box on a run towards the right corner setting up a dangerous kick.  Keon Daniel stepped up and rattled the shot off the top of the crossbar as the teams remained scoreless.

In the 30th, Philadelphia pushed forward again as this time Sheanon Williams made a 60-yard run down the right wing before serving a ball straight across the box just out of the reach of a sliding Mwanga.

After the Union failed to take advantage of the early opportunities, the Rapids took advantage on the other end opening the scoring in the 35th minute. A deflected ball found the pesky Mastroeni on the top right corner of the penalty box and with a deft touch, he eluded Carlos Valdes to the middle. With poise, he slotted home with his left past a diving Mondragon to put the visitors in front.

Though Philadelphia again built momentum in the minutes following the goal with Valdes sending a header just over and Mwanga trying a bicycle wide, it was Colorado who doubled the advantage seconds before halftime.  On a break in the 45th, Omar Cummings dribbled through the midfield and fed a through ball to the speedy Sanna Nyassi behind the Union defense. Nyassi finished easily for the 2-0 lead.

Immediately after the break, halftime sub Michael Farfan nearly put the Union on the board. Le Toux found Farfan on a through ball on the right side of the Colorado box and the rookie eluded three defenders with a series of nifty touches to the center of the box. But alone on top of the six yard box, Farfan sent the shot over the head of goalkeeper Matt Pickens into the stands.

Second-half play settled after the initial Philadelphia chance before Williams made an attacking run through the Colorado midfield and went down. Frustrated when a foul was not called, Williams was first shown a yellow and then a red for dissent as the Union was forced to play a man down for the final 26 minutes.

The Union attack became more dangerous and creative following the dismissal as second-half substitute Veljko Paunovic drove a shot off of the hand of Mastroeni at the top of the Colorado Box in the 70th minute. From 20 yards out, Le Toux sent the free kick off the top of the netting.

Then in the 83rd, Pickens was tested twice on a Union break as Torres created space in the box with his left and was denied before Le Toux put the rebound off a sliding Colorado goalkeeper.

Finally in stoppage time, the waves of Union attack broke through when Torres dribbled through the Colorado defense into the middle of the box and sent a well-placed shot into the top corner to make the score 2-1.

That set the stage for late game drama. Off the ensuing kick, the ball was played back to Faryd Mondragon in the Philadelphia net. Mondragon quickly sent the ball forward and it bounced to Brian Carroll 30 yards out on the right. Carroll sent a bending ball to the left of the Colorado net onto the head of Valdes, whose powerful redirection was punched away by Pickens as the final whistle sounded.

The loss snapped a five match unbeaten streak in league play for the Union. Philadelphia return to action on Wednesday evening at Chicago. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:00 on Comcast SportsNet.

Scoring Summary:

COL -- Pablo Mastroeni 1 (unassisted) 35 COL -- Sanna Nyassi 4 (Omar Cummings 6) 45 PHI -- Roger Torres 2 (unassisted) 92+

Misconduct Summary:

PHI -- Sheanon Williams (ejection; Abusive Language) 64 COL -- Caleb Folan (caution; Reckless Foul) 65 COL -- Brian Mullan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 67

Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall (Scott Palguta 69), Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 78), Sanna Nyassi, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Omar Cummings (Caleb Folan 61).

Substitutes Not Used: Andre Akpan, Mike Holody, Jamie Smith, Steward Ceus.

Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Veljko Paunovic 72), Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres 46), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Michael Farfan 46), Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.

Substitutes Not Used: Jack McInerney, Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath.

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Claudio Badea; Matthew Kreitzer 4th Official: Armando Villarreal Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Cloudy and 89 degrees
Attendance: 18,770

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