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Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Colorado Rapids

Just when it looked like Philadelphia Union were set to throw away their second first half lead in as many weeks, Jack McInerney pounded home his first goal of the year, helping his side to a 2-1 victory over Colorado Rapids.

In a reverse of last week’s fortunes, the Union were dominated by an opponent yet proved sharper in front of goal, with Amobi Okugo opening his MLS account before McInerney’s eventual winner.

From the starting whistle, Colorado dictated play, possessing the ball comfortably against a Union team intent on sitting in a deep shell. It was the most negative of road tactics, but while a better team might have found the Union out, the Rapids are no such team. Dominant at the back throughout, Okugo came forward to power home a Sebastien Le Toux corner to give the Union a precious, if undeserved, lead.

For all the momentum the Union carried into the locker room at the half, they brought none of it back to the pitch. Thus, when Deshorn Brown brushed off Brian Carroll and teed up Jamie Smith for the equalizer, it was just rewards for a Colorado side that played the better soccer on the afternoon.

But while the goal threatened to unhinge the Union and send them crashing to a second straight defeat, a moment of individual quality and strength from Antoine Hoppenot set the table for McInerney to lash home the winner and earn his team their first points of the season.

First half

John Hackworth made two changes from the side that lost 3-1 to Sporting Kansas City last Saturday. Michael Lahoud and Gabriel Farfan were sacrificed, with McInerney and Danny Cruz taking their places in a 4-4-2 setup. Far from a more attacking look, it was clear from the onset that the entire Union side had been instructed to defend deep in an effort to deprive Colorado’s forwards, specifically the speedy rookie and former Reading United man Deshorn Brown, of scoring chances.

But the Union were sloppy out of the gates with Jeff Parke and Cruz conceding softly in their own half. Colorado was dealt a bit of misfortune when captain Pablo Mastroeni limped off to be replaced by former Chivas USA playmaker Nick LaBrocca.

With the Union sitting perilously deep, Colorado failed to take advantage of their numeric mismatch in the midfield, with Hendry Thomas, rookie Dillon Powers and LaBrocca looking all too comfortable. Spreading the ball wide to Brian Mullan, it was Brown with the match’s first real chance, though he flashed his free header wide of MacMath’s far post.

When they were able to gain possession, the Union were wasteful and careless in midfield, as Keon Daniel joined Carroll in lumping hopeful balls back to the Rapids defense.

Colorado nearly grabbed an early lead in the 19th minute when Atiba Harris beat MacMath to his far post on another free header. Fortunately for the Union, McInerney was manning the post on the free kick and was able to clear his lines.

On the other end, Michael Farfan showed the initiative to drive play forward and followed the move to eventually win a free kick 25 yards from Matt Pickens’ goal. The Union chose the left-footed option in Daniel, whose first real contribution to the match was a curling free kick that nicked off the outside of Pickens’ near post.

With plenty of time in midfield, Colorado continued to look for Brown, who was waging an ongoing battle with Okugo. The young Union centerback was on his game though, first giving Brown the physical treatment on the halfway line before recovering to his own end in time to block Brown’s pivoting shot on the next play.

Farfan continued to look the only option for the Union in midfield when he picked out McInerney in the 33rd minute, though the striker’s touch was too heavy. Moments later, Farfan worked deep on the left flank, winning a corner for Le Toux to take.

Hooking a curling ball past the frozen Pickens, Le Toux looked on as Okugo powered his way past Marvell Wynne before burying his header in the back of the net, sending the Union in front, well against the run of play.

Stunned by the goal, the Rapids failed to mount a response, and the Union were suddenly on the front foot. They were not on the same page in the final third however, with McInerney and Le Toux failing to find each other as the match wore towards halftime.

Second half

Coming out with all the momentum, the Union nearly threw away their lead inside of two minutes when they committed a series of errors in their defensive third. The final mistake came when Ray Gaddis was caught in possession near his endline, sending second half substitute Jamie Smith in on MacMath’s net. Had it not been Smith’s first involvement he likely would have done better, but the Union were thankful for the let off when he skewed his shot horribly wide of the far post from near point blank range.

The Union’s midfield woes continued in the second half. Farfan, Daniel, Carroll and Cruz all struggled to connect on even the simplest of passes, gifting possession to the Rapids at every turn. With the defense pinned back, Brown took his chances to run at the back four, nearly skipping past Parke. On the ensuing corner kick, Brown was at the center of the action again, though he was unable to direct his header on net under pressure from Williams.

Despite their dire performance, the Union should have added a second in the 57th minute when Le Toux picked out a streaking Farfan on the right flank. Screaming in on Pickens, Farfan failed to pull the trigger with his first touch, allowing the Rapids goalkeeper time to get off his line and parry the eventual shot behind for a corner. McInerney was able to get his head to the in-swinging set piece, but while Carroll was on hand to nod home, he did so from an offside position.

In the 61st minute, Smith was again the danger man for Colorado when he blew past both Gaddis and Daniel. But for the second time since his introduction, his final touch let him down, this time in the form of a weak dribbler into MacMath’s grateful arms.

Colorado was clearly focusing on the Union’s left flank, with Smith and Wynne easily beating Daniel and Gaddis. On 62 minutes, Wynne got in behind, playing a low ball in on goal. Brown beat MacMath to the ball, but could not turn, rolling his pass back to Wynne whose shot was tame and easily gathered.

In the 69th minute, the Rapids finally found their equalizer, though it took a comedy of Union errors to deliver it to them. After substitute Gabriel Farfan squandered his chance inside the Colorado box, the Rapids punted clear. Parke headed down to Gaddis, who turned and committed an ill-advised pass into the center of the park. Easily blocked off by Smith, the ball found its way to Brown who, after watching Parke fly by with a mistimed challenge, was off to the races. Carroll should have closed down Brown, but his half-hearted tackle was far from sufficient. With Gaddis pinching in to help, Brown picked out Smith after the Scot had continued his run. The third time was the charm for Smith, and he curled a left-footed shot beyond MacMath, who reacted too slowly to make an effort on the ball.

At 1-1, the Union seemed resigned to play for the draw. Though Hackworth brought on a forward, Antoine Hoppenot, it was only to replace an injured Le Toux. Both teams grew tentative, neither wanting to make the mistake that would cost their team the game.

On 79 minutes, Hackworth made his intentions known to all when he hauled off Michael Farfan in favor of the defensive-minded Michael Lahoud. But there was still a moment of magic left in the match for the Union.

When Parke hoofed the ball innocuously forward to Hoppenot, Hendry Thomas seemed to have the play covered. Yet, when Hoppenot accelerated, Thomas lunged across his body, fouling the Union forward in the process. Rather than accept the foul however, Hoppenot showed strength to keep his feet before accelerating past Diego Calderon. Drew Moor could not keep up with McInerney, who cut across the box to make himself available. Hoppenot’s final ball was perfect, rolling it in front of McInerney, allowing the striker to hit it first time beyond Pickens and snatch a lead against the run of play.

After looking timid and rooted to his line for 80 minutes, MacMath found his feet in the final 10 minutes as he proved instrumental in preserving the one-goal lead. In the 83rd minute, Brown sliced behind Parke. Alone with MacMath, Brown failed to get his effort on target under the pressure of the rapidly approaching goalkeeper.

Moments later, MacMath rose well to punch away the ensuing corner. The Union were holding on by a thread and they dropped all eleven men behind the ball.

In the final minute of regulation, Colorado had their best chance at an equalizer. After Parke failed to deal with his defensive header, the ball flashed across the face of MacMath’s goal. Okugo’s sliding challenge did just enough to keep the ball from finding Brown for the tap in, but still left the ball sitting yards away from an empty goal. But no Rapids player could find the needed touch, and Carroll arrived to hoof the ball out of danger, preserving the Union’s lead to steal three points at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Raymon Gaddis; Danny Cruz, Michael Farfan (Michael Lahoud ’79), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Gabriel Farfan ’64); Sebastien Le Toux (Antoine Hoppenot ‘70), Jack McInerney
Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Bakary Soumare, Roger Torres

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens; Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Diego Calderón, Brian Mullan; Pablo Mastroeni (Nick LaBrocca ‘8), Hendry Thomas, Dillon Powers (Jamie Smith ’46), Atiba Harris (Tony Cascio ’71), Kevin Harbottle, Deshorn Brown
Unused substitutes: Chris Klute, Andre Akpan, Kamani Hill, Clinton Irwin

Scoring Summary
34 – PHI: Okugo (Le Toux)
69 – COL: Smith (Brown)
70 – PHI: McInerney (Hoppenot)

Discipline Summary
37 – COL: Harbottle (caution)
67 – COL: Thomas (caution)
90 – PHI: Cruz (caution)

Colorado Rapids Philadelphia Union
12 Attempts on Goal 6
3 Shots on Target 3
7 Shots off Target 1
2 Blocked Shots 2
8 Corner Kicks 2
13 Fouls 14
20 Open Play Crosses 4
3 Offsides 2
2 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
46 Duels Won 45
50% Duels Won % 49%
490 Total Pass 278
80% Passing Accuracy % 63%
64.2% Possession 35.8%


  1. A win is a win but more players played poorly than well.
    Carroll is done. Cruz should never play 90 minutes again. Daniel is an average player.
    Gaddis is fast but that’s all.
    Despite the win there is still much I would change with this lineup.

    • frankswild says:

      I don’t know if something happened to Carrol in the offseason, but he has not looked good at all during the past two games. He has never been the greatest but he has not been close to enough recently

  2. That game was a poorly fought, lightly contested battle that when all was said and done Colorado simply wanted it less.

    Congratulations to the Philadelphia Union for merely showing up and somehow getting 3 points.

  3. Coaching your way into a loss and stumbling into a victory over a depleted Rapids club. First, excellent finishing by Okugo and McKinerny. That being said, Hackworth is not a pro coach. He is a walking, talking cliche but not a pro coach. A pro coach manages to a players talents and strengths. Hackworth dumps his marbles out and hopes they all roll in the same direction. Hey it’s 3 points which should help with the teams self confidence. This was Colorado and you have to get points. Where was Casey Connors?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Announcers briefly mentioned that Casey had a hamstring injury and didn’t make the trip.

    • And…his name is Connor Casey. Seems like you should know that for someone that knows so much.

    • Where was Casey Connors? He didn’t even show up to the match, what a dick. Although, it’s not his fault. He doesn’t exist. Nice try, champ.

      Also, it’s McInerney, but surprisingly you got Okugo right…hmm

    • Busted1!!! Typing on the A train. Sorry — The rest is still my opinion:)

      • Casey Connors (clap,clap,clap-clap-clap)

      • swing and a miss says:

        did you commute down from NYC for the match? that’s heart right there.

      • My job transferred me to NY. It’s tough being a Philadelphia as you can imagine. There is a place in the Village call Woogies where Philly fans can hang out and enjoy their teams. I usually watched Futbol at my apartment with friends or we head down to Nevada Smiths.

  4. Sean Doyle says:

    And to think, had the Union not traded away the fifth pick in this year’s draft for Baky Soumare (who has only played in one of a possible 23 league matches), Deshorn Brown could be creating scoring chance after scoring chance for the Union.


    • To be honest I don’t know if it is Bakay’s fault he isn’t on the pitch considering our line ups so far this year.

  5. JediLos117 says:

    Excellent pregame tactics, good ingame execution and well timed and thought out subs.
    Good win. I would have been happy with a draw.
    M. Farfan needs to score that. Okugo: Man of the Match. Good hustle and heart from Cruz. Le Toux solid 60+ mins, excellent corner. McInherney & Hoppenot=win win combo. Williams looks very average over past two matches. Carroll did well in lone CDM. Bend it like Daniel?!

    • Carroll did well? Yikes, I’d hate to see him not do well then. Did you see Colorado last week, this team is bare bones with injuries and still had almost 70% of the possession. Luck is great and will get you some wins but lauding all comers for a lack luster performance is recipe for seeing the same lineup again.

    • Josh Trott says:

      I agree- this game was a win via superior tactics. I want Farfan to beat Pickets on the dribble- he can- and slot home. Cruz was chosen because of hustle and fight- it was a good choice given where they were playing.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Farfan’s break pretty much sums up Farfan. Indecisive at crunch time. The most troubling part about that sequence was not the fact that he took an unnecessary touch (playing the ball too close to Pickens) but the look over his right shoulder, for someone to pass to. (Pass out wide would have put shooter at a horrible angle). He needed to put that one on goal, exactly like McInerney did. I keep hearing how Michael Farfan is THE GUY, but I have really yet to see him be THE GUY. The team could really use A GUY.

  6. This match report is pretty much exactly the way I saw it, although MacMath looked less timid to me, and more like someone making slightly better decisions.
    The announcers were pretty good.
    Maybe Dick’s shouldn’t have so many microphones trained on the pitch, although it’s nice to hear a professional footballer react the exact same way as me when making a bad pass. Ha!!!

  7. I am just disgusted with the Lahoud substitution, and the fact that we had two center backs in our substitutions. No Torres in a game is…inexcusable.

    But hey what do I know we won. But…Hackworth really seems timid and predictable. Kind of like Carroll, so appropriate.

    Also in a sort of sadistic way, I enjoyed the honest PSP account of the Colorado goal. Always refreshing to hear how it really went down.

  8. Interesting game to watch- a goal from a set piece (even though I cannot imagine why Le2 is taking the corners) and a goal from the run of play when I thought that the Union had decided to simply sit back and defend a road point. Possession was SO HEAVY in favor of the Rapids, it looked like a defend only game plan in the second half. It was an unexpected outcome after giving up the tying goal.

    • le toux has actually looked decent at corners this year. as long as he doesnt take free kicks, i can live with it.

  9. The game was sloppy on both sides. The first 30 minutes made me think I was watch a U10 game with all the bad passes and failure to get their head up and push upfield.
    My Thoughts so far:
    Daniel needs to be on the bench.
    The farfans need to bury chances and shoot when they get the chance
    Parke and Okugo pair up pretty well and are going to get better.
    Carroll does look a step slow the whole game which begs the question when will he lose the armband to parke and let okugo slide up.
    I am gonna give gaddis a break as its tough adjusting to left back but once he gets the playing time he will round out.
    Torres needs to make his way into the game somehow.
    Lahoud is a great backup but thats it, not sure how he found his way in yesterday for anyone but carroll
    mac is a poacher and needs set up to be effective though that isn’t news
    I love hoppenot off the bench.
    Macmath is making strides and needs to continue to make them as opposed to last year where he got the deer in headlights look about halfway through the season.

    All in All hack needs to get it going or he is gonna need to go. He seems to not have a guiding hand on the process right now.

    3 points i will take. At least we are winning games we deserve to draw this year instead of losing them.

  10. Ugly match. Ugly conditions with the temp, the day delay, and travel involved. I think this team was just plain worn out. With that said, gutsy finding a way to pull it out.

    -I may be one of the only ones who will say this but I hope Okugo stay at CB. Kid will play in europe and start for the US. His distribution out of the back is fantastic and is another weapon in the arsenal.

    -MacMath is such a head scratcher. Comes off his line well but looks timid facing shots. Endless potential but definitely not confident. Maybe its not having Valdes back there?

    -Brian Carroll is disappointing.

    -JackMac needs 1 chance to change a game. His runs are perfect and he’s a lethal finisher. Game winners late in the match seems to be his thing. I’ll take it.

    -Hoppenot is tough to keep on the bench.

    -I don’t know if Hack can coach or not. He seems too stuck in his 4-4-2 with Cruz and Lahoud somewhere in there. I’m not a huge fan of Gaddis on the left but I’m open to it. Is he really a better option than Garfan at this point?

  11. I’ll happily take the friggin’ Win. Oh yes I will…Go Union!!!

    A few questions though: 1)How do you start Cruz over Garfan? 2)Why did Williams only pop “moon balls” out of the back instead of actually passing the ball? 3)What ever happened to “Gabe Farfan is our starting Left Back. He’s without a doubt one of the best Left backs…” John Hackworth. 4)Does Baki suddenly suck, or is he still not fit?

  12. It is terrific to have stolen 3 points on the road, against the run of play, as for the last 3 seasons we were much more often on the other end of that equation.

    But having said that, I am not enthused about the team AT ALL so far. They have really just looked weak. The defense looks shaky sometimes — Williams seems a bit off his game, and Gaddis, who I really like, has not been godd at all. Okugo and Parke are having shaky moments as well (but fewer of them). And the midfield just cannot put it together. Like, at all. We have got to do something with the midfield if this doesn’t get better ASAP. Options include 1) Roger Torres in the middle, moving Marfan to the wing; 2) giving Garfan another shot on the left wing (this is almost certainly worth doing, given Daniel’s propensity for turnovers); 3) moving Okugo into the midfield and starting Soumare (but would this screw up the defensive chemistry?); 4) playing LeToux as a sort of midfield-forward hybrid, with McInerney and Casey up top.

    The one piece of good news is that we now have a series of forwards who can hit the target. I am very excited that in the first 2 games we have LeToux with a beautiful goal and an assist,Union Jack with an assassin-like finish, and Hip Hop with a beautiful set-up. And we haven’t even seen Casey yet.

    • +1. Like those first 3 options. 4th might be good too, but would rather see the others.

    • A lot of times when Parke has looked shaky it was because He was going further and further out to the side to cover for Gaddis who was having a horrible game. By the end of the game Parke was playing Center back and Left back due to Gaddis getting burned or being MIA.

    • I am willing to give Gaddis a few more games to get accustomed to playing on the left side. Ray is a right foot, and is not used to playing on the left side of the pitch.
      But also would not argue that he should not be a permanent solution. Garfan was/is a bit more creative which allowed him to be serviceable at Left Back last year.
      Summary – we need a true Left Back (wait, doesnt the USMNT need one too)

      • The Black Hand says:

        Scary to think of Gaddis back at LB. I like him and think we have to find a way to get him on the pitch. However, he is really, really having trouble working from the left.

      • Switch Gaddis and Williams?

      • The Black Hand says:

        That would be my move. Williams would be an upgrade to Gaddis at LB. I think that Gaddis would, for the most part, equal Williams output at RB. Could be a win/win. I suspect Hackworth will bring Farfan back to LB. I don’t hate that either, though it would keep Gaddis off of the pitch. To me Gaddis is a better player than Gabe, so I would try to keep Gaddis in the XI. Either way, Gaddis shouldn’t remain at LB.

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