MLS Match Recap: Colorado Rapids 1, Philadelphia Union 2

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Jack McInerney’s 79th-minute goal was the difference as the Philadelphia Union handed the Colorado Rapids their first loss in a home opener in a decade, with Philadelphia picking up their first points of the season in a 2-1 win at a chilly Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Sunday afternoon.

In a match postponed to Sunday due to a Saturday snowstorm, the Rapids had equalized Amobi Okugo's first-half opener through substitute Jamie Smith’s 68th-minute wonder-strike, but minutes later, McInerney took advantage of poor Rapids defense on a counterattack to give the Union the late victory.

Colorado dominated possession throughout the match, but often lacked ideas in the final third of the field.

The Rapids controlled the early majority of the chances and came close to getting the game’s first goal on several instances. In the 15th minute, Marvell Wynne’s low shot from just outside the penalty box whizzed past Zac McMath’s goal. Five minutes later, and Hendry Thomas’ powerful goal-bound header was cleared off the line by McInerney.

Despite Colorado controlling possession at a 63 percent clip in the first half, in the 34th minute it was the Union that drew first blood. Sébastien Le Toux’s corner kick found an unmarked Okugo in the box, and the Sacramento native easily headed home for the early 1-0 lead. Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens hesitated before making a play on the corner, but by that point it was too late and Okugo was alone behind Pickens for the easy goal.

Pickens, however, made up for his error on the other side of the half, when his diving stop on a Michael Farfan breakaway snuffed out what should have been a two-goal Union lead and set the stage for Smith’s game-tying strike.

Moving quickly on the counter, the veteran Scotsman took Deshorn Brown’s pass and created just enough space to lift the ball over MacMath’s outstretched hands and into the corner of the net in the 68th minute.

But minutes later, the Union caught the Rapids – who were busy pushing forward for the win – on the counterattack. McInerney took a beautiful through ball from Antoine Hoppenot and slotted the ball past Pickens and a sliding Drew Moor for the decisive strike.

Brown’s 83rd-minute volley nearly evened things back up for the Rapids, but the home side slumped to a 0-2-0 start to the 2013 campaign.

There was more bad news for the Rapids: captain Pablo Mastroeni – who missed the final 32 games of last season with post-concussion symptoms – was forced to come out of the match in the eighth minute with what looked to be a left hamstring injury.

The Rapids hit the road for the opening leg of the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday, March 16, against archrivals Real Salt Lake (6 pm ET, MLS LIVE), while the Union will host the New England Revolution the same evening.

MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Amobi Okugo (PHI) He may have scored the opening goal, but his real contribution was at centerback, helping Union contain and clear numerous Rapid attacks.
2 Jack McInerney (PHI) The young forward didn't necessarily have a good game, but he came through when it counted with a goal-line clearance and a sensational run and finish to win it.
3 Jamie Smith (COL) The Scotsman changed the game for Colorado in the second half, giving the Rapids a playmaker and a goal from the right side. The team's change in formation was critical.

 

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.