CHESTER, Pa. — In the second half of Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rapids, the Philadelphia Union showed why they’ve sat atop the Eastern Conference table for much of the season, playing a crisp brand of attacking soccer, even after they went down a man.
The problem was they played nothing like that in the first half – which is why they suffered their first home loss of the season, dropping a 2-1 decision to the reigning MLS Cup champs.
“We were giving them space and they were making good finishes,” Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón said of the Rapids’ two first-half goals, from Pablo Mastroeni and Sanna Nyassi. “Then, in the second half, I think we played with more heart, with more desire. I think we played good soccer, and in the end, we created enough chances not only to equalize but also win.
“It’s a pity we lost this game,” the veteran goalie continued. “I don’t mind losing the home record; I mind to give points away like tonight.”
In part because of the additions of second-half subs Roger Torres and Michael Farfan, the Union certainly seemed energized after halftime, peppering Rapids ’keeper Matt Pickens with some strong shots on net.
Trailing 2-0 in the final minutes, the Union made it interesting with a goal from Torres and a last-second header from Carlos Valdés – but it was too little, too late.
“It’s a disappointment to lose at home because you don’t want to give anything away,” Union defensive midfielder Brian Carroll said. “I thought we fought hard all game. They did a good job countering and taking advantage of their chances. But we worked hard to get back into the game; we just weren’t able to find that second goal. It was hard to find that first goal, let alone get the second.”
Indeed, the Rapids needed to take only three shots on goal to score their pair of tallies, the second – from the red-hot Nyassi – coming on a counterattack after a Union giveaway.
The Union, meanwhile, fired six shots on net in the second half alone (after mustering zero in the first half) – which was an especially impressive achievement considering they played without fullback Sheanon Williams, who was shown a red card for arguing with the ref in the 64th minute.
“It’s never nice to lose” Califf said. “It always hurts a lot worse when you do it in front of your own fans. It hurts a lot. We had big chances to score and they probably had two or three and they scored on two of them. Other than that, they didn’t have much at all. And we had a lot and didn’t make them pay. At home, that’s frustrating.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.