Union Fall Flat at Home Again vs Last Place Colorado Rapids

Goal keeper Clint Irwin, right, of the Colorado Rapids is able to deflect a shot by Jamiro Monteiro, center, of the Philadelphia Union late in the game at Talen Energy Stadium on May 29, 2019. Delkan Wynne is left.

Twenty-six shots. Only one goal. Let that sink in for a bit. Twenty-six shots. One goal. At least Jamiro Monteiro put on a show.

Monteiro was close to scoring for the Union, but in the end Philly had to settle for a draw. Mandatory Credit: Charles Fox Philly.com.

Less than two weeks ago, the Colorado Rapids were the only win-less club this season in Major League Soccer. One road shut-out win (against the Zlatan-less) Galaxy and a home victory over the Columbus Crew, and the Rapids were riding a two-match winning streak. They still sported the third worst goal differential in MLS and sat at a league-low eight points through thirteen contests. But any club winning two straight even after as dismal a start as Colorado had, can be dangerous.

The Philadelphia Union attempted to benefit from the absence of an injured Tim Howard. Clint Irwin was in goal for the Rapids, seeing his first action in 2019. His career got off to solid start with the Rapids from 2013-15, including an All-Star appearance. Since then he’s played sporadically with Toronto FC and has been plagued by injuries. Putting constant pressure on Irwin should have been the key to the Union offense.

At his press conference Tuesday, Union head coach, Jim Curtin, stated that both midfielder, Marco Fabián, and forward, Sergio Santos, were fit to play and to start. Not surprisingly, Santos was selected for the starting lineup but Fabián was relegated to the bench, not for Brenden Aaronson, but for Ilsinho. It’s just speculation on my part, but it could be possible the Union didn’t want the oft-injured Fabián to risk another injury playing extended minutes on the rain-soaked field.

From the opening whistle the Union began taking aim at Irwin. In just the 3rd minute, a Haris Medunjanin corner resulted in a scramble, Ilsinho coming up with the loose ball, but sending a shot wide left. Soon after, Alejandro Bedoya served a beautiful ball to Ray Gaddis who was running straight for the Rapids’ box. Unfortunately, Gaddis took forever to decide what to do, then floated a long pass almost out of bounds to the left of the goal. It would result in a corner but he needed to do more with that pass. Gaddis would have a few more chances later on to notch his first ever MLS goal, including a blast in the 22nd minute that looked good all the way, but hit the right of the outside netting.

The Union would get on the board first. In the 26th minute, after a Colorado turnover in the Union offensive side of the field, Sergio Santos played a nifty back heel pass to Jamiro Monteiro, who took a quick stab at the ball while slipping on the wet turf. He was able to push it to Sergio Santos just in time. Santos had an easy time of it from there, notching his third goal of the season. Monteiro would further put his imprint on this one in the 41st minute. Just after getting his leg taken out from underneath him and not receiving a foul call, Monteiro took on two defenders on the left side line with some of the best step and and back heel moves you’ll see from anyone all season. Freddy Adu-esque you could say.

Santos had more of an up-and-down first half. Aside from scoring the goal, he went down earlier in the match, clearly by his own volition, and the referee was not buying it. If it occurred in the box he could have been carded. Also, in the 37th minute, Wagner was throwing the ball in from the left sideline in Santos’ direction and it appeared Santos wasn’t paying attention. The Rapids easily regained possession with the ball simply falling between them.

Some fancy footwork from Monteiro

At the half the Union were dominating possession as usual but Colorado was beginning to get more and more shots off as time went on. The 1-0 lead seemed like it should have been much bigger but things were starting to get tight.

The Union opened the second half playing just like that – tight. Within the first few minutes, both Kacper Przybylko and Ilsinho had opportunities to score, but both tried for an additional, unnecessary pass. Those were two blown chances and Colorado kept hanging around. A few moments later, the stereotype of the MLS referee reared its ugly head. Ilsinho deflected a ball past the back line that clearly went off a Rapids defender and should have resulted in a Union corner. The sideline official, doing his MLS best, awarded a goal kick to Colorado.

Two things here: First, this was not bang-bang close body possession deflection. This was a few feet to spare in clear view, right in front of the official. Secondly, the play occurred right near the back line, so at that point, that official didn’t even have to worry about looking for off-sides. All he had to do was look at the ball and couldn’t get that straight. But I digress.

The Rapids were gaining confidence and unleashing more and more shots Andre Blake’s way. In the 59th minute, forward, Nicolas Mezquida, fired a shot that luckily for Blake, bounced off the post. Auston Trusty was slow getting over on that one and granted Mezquida a good amount of space to line that one up.

The Union blew a golden opportunity ten minutes later in the 69th minute. Fafa Picault, who had subbed on for Santos, had possession running down the left side of the field. Marco Fabián, who had subbed on for Ilsinho, and Monteiro were both wide, and I mean wide open almost coming to a standstill a few yards outside the Colorado box. Picault decided to shoot from distance and left both midfielders and the crowd with arms raised in disbelief.

Things would get worse in the 72nd minute. After an out-of-bounds ball was granted to the Rapids, they quickly in-bounded the throw-in, catching the Union defense off-guard. Kai Wagner was late getting over to his side, and midfielder, Johnathan Lewis, fired in the game-tying goal.

Although 1-1 is how this one would end, the last few minutes were a mess, particularly for the Union. The defense seemed out-of-sync, was late stepping up to the ball, and I even saw Przybylko defending down in the corner for some unknown reason. Then, Clint Irwin clearly stood out-of-bounds while holding the ball, and the same sideline official granted a goal kick. And the cherry, or I should say cherries on top, both Monteiro and Przybylko had great chances to take the lead for the Union in extra time, but their shots were also off-the-mark.

Colorado center back, Lalas Abubakar (right) was a thorn in the Union’s side all evening. Mandatory credit Derik Hamilton USA Today Sports

Colorado center back, Lalas Abubakar was the player of the night for the Rapids and probably saved a goal or two himself. Irwin was average, punching away a few balls that he should have grabbed. He didn’t make any spectacular saves and the Union have no excuses. Twenty-six shots, whether on goal or not, a 1-1 draw at home to a last place club is not acceptable. Not to mention dominating possession yet again.

They need to start figuring things out on the road Sunday in Minnesota. A few guys are starting to look tired. I know the international break is approaching and maybe the staff is aiming to rest everyone then, but it could cost the Union the next few matches. Trusty and Elliot were late getting to the ball often Wednesday night. They need to rest. At least one this Sunday. Things aren’t as peachy as a few weeks ago. If the Union put in a bad showing Sunday, they could find themselves as far back as fourth place by the end of the night. The time to right the ship is now.

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Charles Fox Philly.com.

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