COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — It’s getting old for Conor Casey. Gary Smith called it "Groundhog Day."
The Colorado Rapids once again failed to defend a lead Saturday night, as they endured their sixth straight tie with a 1-1 draw at home to the Philadelphia Union. The six consecutive draws mark a new MLS record, and a new point of frustration for the defending MLS Cup champions.
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“It’s definitely kind of needing to get over that hump, getting over that hill, and it’s a bit of a steep hill right now,” Andre Akpan told MLSsoccer.com. “I think getting a win would give us a huge boost of confidence.
“Instead of going on to get an extra goal,” he added, “we are kind of timid, and they are getting one.”
This was the third game in a row that the Rapids have given up a lead, following a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on May 25 and a 1-1 draw last weekend against Sporting Kansas City. Danny Mwanga equalized for the Union in the 66th minute with a long-range shot just three minutes after Casey opened the scoring with a well-taken penalty shot.
Mwanga appeared to have ample time to take aim from outside the penalty area before he buried the equalizer for the visiting Union.
“It was just a breakdown, it happened so quick,” Rapids left back Anthony Wallace told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s happened in the past few games where we score and the other team comes right back. It’s pretty disappointing.”
Rather than point the finger at any individuals, Smith said the goal was symptomatic of a general lack of confidence.
“As a unit, as a team, they are extremely capable of keeping clean sheets,” the Rapids head coach said. “And when moments like that occur so quickly, that for me is put down to a little bit of nervousness, a little bit of apprehension.”
Up the other end, there are also problems creating enough decent chances, Smith said.
Jamie Smith, who returned Saturday after missing time with a calf injury, and agreed it was difficult to create good opportunities.
“I’ve been part of teams that have been on losing streaks,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it is a bad patch, it’s more a sticky patch.”
Gary Smith said the group will eventually break out of their rut and preferred to look at the positive, including the team’s franchise-record eight-game unbeaten streak.
“The positive,” he said, “is that we haven’t lost.”