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Recap: Philadelphia Union battle Colorado Rapids to 3-3 tie

Photo via Philadelphia Union's twitter account

Photo via Philadelphia Union’s twitter account

It was a beautiful night for a soccer game at PPL Park in Chester, PA.  The host Philadelphia Union have been on a roll recently, playing well under interim manager Jim Curtin.  They were coming off a July 4th loss at Dallas, but had reason to be optimistic as Colorado were missing Vicente Sanchez due to a two-game suspension.  The hosts missing Maurice Edu through suspension as well.  It was an even match overall but the end result, a 3-3 draw, has to be a disappointment to the Union and their fans.  The Union held a 3-1 lead in the 74th minute but were reduced to 10 men in the 77th minute and couldn’t hold on for about ten minutes.

The game saw the debut of Ethan White for the Union as they try to fix the problem of central defense that has plagued them all season.  I didn’t notice White very much but that isn’t a bad thing.  He made no real glaring errors nor was he really at fault in any of the Colorado goals. I think Jim Curtin is right when he told the media earlier in the week that Ethan White had earned playing time.  With Lahoud and Amobi Okugo likely suspended for Wednesday’s game, White most likely will see his second start.

The game started well for both teams with early chances, but the Union struck first in the 16th minute. Conor Casey blasted home a nice Ray Gaddis cross from about seven yards.  It was a great sequence that started on the left and was worked over to Gaddis on the right and finished by Casey.  The celebration had barely finished when Colorado equalized through Dillon Serna two minutes later.

The Union continue to frustrate everyone by having moments of brilliance quickly followed by moments of lost focus.  Colorado played the ball upfield on the right and Okugo attempted to head the ball away but instead flicked it toward his own goal and into the path of Dillon Powers, who dribbled into the center and passed off to Serna just outside the 18.  He cut back to his left, back to the middle then shifted the ball back to his right foot and beat Zac MacMath to the right side of the net.

Philadelphia regained the lead in the 30th minute thanks to a powerful Sheanon Williams header off a Cristian Maidana corner kick.  The half ended 2-1 Union, but there was controversy as an early hard foul on Danny Cruz resulted in a yellow card to Rapids Defender Shane O’Neill. This could have been a red for the lateness of the tackle and the hard hit on Cruz.  He was injured but got up and continued.

The second half saw the Union start strong with a few early chances. The broke through with a score in the 74th minute from substitute Andrew Wenger.  The play began with Amobi Okugo stealing the ball in midfield and powering his way through the defense to the end line before cutting the ball back in front of the goal.  The ball took a deflection and went just behind Casey but Wenger was following behind and poked the ball under Colorado goalie Clint Irwin.

At this point the Union and their fans were feeling great and hoped to just finish off the game and a huge three points from a good Colorado team.  Three minutes later things would begin to unravel for the Union.  Jared Watts got behind Michael Lahoud on the right side of the goal as the ball was played in.  Lahoud gambled and went for the spectacular bicycle kick clearance and instead kicked Watts in the face.  Referee Sorin Stoica wasted no time in signaling for a penalty kick and issuing Lahoud a red card.  The fans and players were stunned but it was the right call.  Dillon Powers buried the ensuing penalty kick to make it 3-2.  The Rapids upped the tempo even more and equalized in the 86th minute through speedy Deshorn Brown, who had been kept quiet most of the night but Williams and White.  Williams gambled on the play as the ball was passed to Brown and tried to jump in front and cut off the ball but missed and Brown was able to turn and fire the ball passed MacMath to stun the crowd and complete the comeback.

The game ended after four minutes of stoppage time but as the players were walking off the field Amobi Okugo was issued a red card for dissent.  As no one saw it there was much confusion over what actually happened. The allegation is hat Stoica issued the card based on something that Okugo said but may not have actually said it.  Without seeing the referee report we won’t know what actually happened.  His card may be appealed but as of now the Union will be without Okugo and Lahoud as they host the rival New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

  They will have Maurice Edu available and my guess is he moves back into midfield with Brian Carroll, though i hope Vincent Nogueira will be healthy enough to play after missing the last five games with a groin injury.

In the end, it was a physical game and the Philadelphia Union got a point against a good team.  But it feels a bit like a loss because of their continued inability to close out games, especially at home.  We can blame the referee, who had a poor game by letting too much go in the first half then calling everything for much of the second half before swallowing his whistle late.  But this is an excuse and that won’t change the fact that this was yet another draw that feels like a loss.

One Response to Recap: Philadelphia Union battle Colorado Rapids to 3-3 tie

  1. Pingback: Recaps & reaction to draw with Rapids, league results wrap, Germany world champs, more

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