|Jack McInerney - courtesy of Nick Klein|
Amobi Okugo also scored for the Union, who earned their first three points on the year in a match played a day late after being postponed due to blizzard-like conditions in the area on Saturday.
The Union got on the board first in the 34th minute as Okugo scored off of a corner kick, marking his first-ever goal in Major League Soccer. Forward Sebastien Le Toux found an awaiting Okugo back post in the 34th minute to put the Union ahead. The defender redirected the ball towards net after it got past Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
“It’s feels good to score my first goal,” said Okugo. “I’ve been in the league for four years and to get a goal especially in an effort where the team gets a win – a hard fought win – it means a lot.”
Colorado leveled the match in the 68th after forward Deshorn Brown found halftime substitute Jamie Smith just inside the box, who curled a shot to the far post of a frozen Zac MacMath.
But it was McInerney’s tally in the 79th minute that put the Union ahead for good. Second-half substitute Antoine Hoppenot took a long ball from defender Jeff Parke, turned, and collided with Colorado’s Hendry Thomas but managed to stay on his feet. Hoppenot then took off down the right side of the pitch and played a through ball into space for McInerney. It was then McInerney who slotted a low shot past Rapids keeper Matt Pickens.
With that, the Union head back to Philadelphia with three valuable road points.
“We knew coming here it was going to be extremely difficult,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “We were going to have to drop our line and defend more than we normally do. I would say us going up a goal, we kind of sat back too much and gave them too much of the ball, [Colorado] tried to get the equalizer and did. But credit to our guys they fought hard and capitalized on a sequence there to get the win.”
It was a game largely controlled by Colorado. First half stats alone showed that while shots were even apiece at four, the Union only held 37.2 percent of the possession, with that statistic barely rising in the second half (35.8 percent overall). However, a stingy Union defense spearheaded by Sheanon Williams and the shutdown play by center fullback Jeff Parke along with a substitution (Hoppenot) paid dividends down the stretch.
“We are a team that likes to push the game,” said Hackworth. “We are a team that likes to press, but with being here for two days, sitting in the hotel, watching the storm dealing with the weather and the delays, it was going to be asking a lot to come in here and take this game to them.”
The Union return to PPL Park on Saturday for a 5 p.m. matchup with New England Revolution.
Philadelphia Union 2, Colorado Rapids 1
Sunday, March 10; 1:00 p.m. CT (3 p.m. ET)
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Denver, Colo.
PHI: Okugo (Le Toux), 34’
CO: Smoth (Brown), 68’
SKC: McInerney (Hoppenot), 79’
CO: Harbottle (caution), 37’
CO: Thomas (caution), 67’
PHI: Cruz (caution), 91’
UNION STARTING 11
MacMath, Williams, Okugo, Parke, Gaddis, Carroll, Daniel (G. Farfan 64’), M. Farfan (Lahoud 78’), Cruz, McInerney, Le Toux (Hoppenot 71’)
RAPIDS CITY STARTING 11
Pickens, Mullan, Wynne, Calderon, Moor, Thomas, Powers (Smith 45’), Mastroeni (LaBrocca 8’), Harbottle, Brown, Harris (Cascio 71’)