COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – For the first time this season, the Colorado Rapids walked off of their home field without a full three points in hand, following Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union at Dick’s Sporting Good Park.
An equalizer by Union midfielder Brian Carroll in extra time proved to be the difference between another home win and a draw for Colorado, just minutes after Sam Cronin gave the Rapids the go-ahead goal in the 87th minute.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni told reporters following the match. “The game isn’t going to give you anything unless you concentrate until the last whistle. Give them credit, they pushed and they fought.”
The Rapids were without the services of Jermaine Jones and Shkëlzen Gashi, who were out on international duty. Without the pair of playmakers in the lineup, Colorado generated little first half offense aside from Luis Solignac’s misfire in the 33rd minute.
“I think in the first half we were slow shifting the ball around,” Cronin said. “Give credit to [Philadelphia]. Their press is pretty good.”
But while the leadership and abilities of Jones and Gashi were missed, Mastroeni emphasized that the absences didn’t leave room for excuses.
“What I talk about is that everyone needs to play,” Mastroeni said. “There’s no guarantees that if those guys were out there that we would’ve won the game. You have to prove yourself every week regardless of who’s available or who is injured.”
Colorado did receive an offensive spark in the second half, however, when Marlon Hairston entered the game as a second-half substitution for Dillon Serna. Hairston created several chances for the Rapids, including Cronin's goal.
“Marlon played [midfield] his first year and I thought he did a very good job,” Mastroeni said of Hairston’s performance. “He’s got speed. I told him to use his pace and engage players one on one and find little gaps. It’s great to see.”
Saturday’s result ended Colorado’s home win streak at six games, but the point helped the Rapids retain their foothold atop the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield standings as they remain unbeaten in nine straight games.
“Unfortunately tonight we just didn’t get the three points,” said Mastroeni. “It’s either two points lost or one point gained. It feels like two points lost right now because I’m emotional. But I think tomorrow, after seeing some of the results it will feel like a point gained.”