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Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Colorado Rapids

C.J. Sapong and Haris Medunjanin were on target in the second half as the Union came from behind to beat the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at Talen Energy Field. Sapong netted from the penalty spot and Medunjanin curled a beautiful free kick to better Caleb Calvert’s first half effort. Calvert also saw a red card after two yellow cards in the 69th minute.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that defeated Houston on Wednesday. Fabian Herbers replaced Chris Pontius on the right wing and Giliano Wijnaldum made his first MLS start, replacing Fabinho. The moves were confirmed as just rest for both players.

The Union’s four game shutout streak ended in just the 15th minute. Caleb Calvert picked up the ball 35 yards from the Union goal and drove at a retreating backline before curling a shot over the head of Andre Blake to give the Rapids the lead.

Philadelphia would have a great chance to equalize in the 25th minute. Fabian Herbers pulled a ball back for Ilsinho, who shot first time from 16 yards, but Tim Howard was down to his right quickly to push the shot away.

Herbers pulled up lame in the 27th minute and had to be replaced by Chris Pontius.

Colorado spent the rest of the first half slowing the game down as much as possible, taking their time from set plays and committing 8 fouls.

Philadelphia would equalize in the 67th minute. Colorado center back Kortne Ford fell on the ball and handled it inside the Rapids box and Jose Carlos Rivero was quick to point to the spot. C.J. Sapong stepped up and sent Howard the wrong way, finishing into the right side of the net.

The game would turn on its head in the 69th minute. Goalscorer Calvert was first shown a yellow card for time wasting after he stayed down too long after minimal contact. Calvert was then shown a second yellow and subsequent red card entering the field without the referee’s permission 30 seconds later

The Union would take the lead in the 75th minute. Bedoya was fouled cynically from behind by Joshua Gatt after shooting the ball just outside the Colorado box. Haris Medunjanin stepped up and curled a sensational shot over the Rapids wall into the near corner of the net, giving Howard no chance.

Substitute Jay Simpson almost added gloss to the scoreline in the 90th minute. The forward made a quick turn on the midfield line and raced in on goal one on one versus Tim Howard. But the US goalkeeper made himself big and saved with his right hand to deny Simpson a second goal on the season.

The Union next travel to Salt Lake City to take on Real Salt Lake next Saturday (8 p.m.).

Three points

  • Physical from the start. CJ Sapong had to exercise restraint as call after call went against him early. He held his temper and got his revenge with a well-taken second half penalty.
  • Haris hits. Philly’s controlling midfielder has been exerting more and more control over matches lately. This wicked free kick was hit every bit as well as his goal against DC United.
  • Calvert’s… big day. After notching his first MLS goal, Caleb Calvert got his first red card for returning to the field without being waved on after an injury. It was an unexpected bit of good luck for the Union, and a true moment of absurdity for Colorado.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Giliano Wijnaldum, Fafa Picault (Jay Simpson 62′), Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Fabian Herbers (Chris Pontius 27′), Ilsinho (Warren Creavalle 86′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Adam Najem, Richie Marquez, Keegan Rosenberry

Colorado Rapids

Tim Howard, Eric Miller, Kortne Ford, Axel Sjoberg, Mike da Fonte, Mohammed Saeid (Marlon Hairston 62′), Michael Azira, Joshua Gatt (Dominique Badji 76′), Sam Hamilton (Dillon Powers 81′), Kevin Doyle, Caleb Calvert
Unused subs:
 Zac MacMath, Bobby Burling, Alan Gordon, Shkelzen Gashi

Scoring summary

COL: Caleb Calvert — 17′ (Doyle)
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 67′ (PK)
PHI: Haris Medunjanin — 75′ (Pontius, Sapong)

Disciplinary summary

COL: Mohammed Saeid — 44′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 65′ (unsporting behavior)
COL: Caleb Calvert — 69′(dissent)
COL: Caleb Calvert — 69′ (red; entering the field)
COL: Joshua Gatt — 74′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Giliano Wijnaldum — 81′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union Colorado Rapids
 10 Shots 6
 5 Shots on Target 1
 2 Shots off Target 4
 3 Blocked Shots 1
 3 Corner Kicks 2
 14 Crosses 8
 1 Offsides 1
 9 Fouls 16
 2 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 1
 633 Total Passes 286
 87% Passing Accuracy 73%
 68.6% Possession 31.4%
 51 Duels Won 45
 53.1% Duels Won % 46.9%
 10 Tackles Won 17
 0 Saves 3
 10 Clearances 16


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    SUPERCOLLIDER soo-per-kuh-lahy-der
    noun. physics. …blah blah blah millions of megavolts of energy.
    I am open
    I am welcome
    for a fraction of a second
    I have jettisoned my illusions
    I have dislodged my depressions
    I put the shadows back into
    their boxes.
    Talen energy field is electric again. Nice to hear.

    as always,
    yours in radiohead.

    • Christian says:

      wtf are you saying?

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Well Christian. What the fuck I’m saying….
        …. is it is nice to see people and hear energy coming from the stadium again.
        What I am saying is I’m a happy fan at the moment setting aside the many great things (momentarily) of concern from the past 365 days in the near view to about 3,000 days in the long view…. or so.
        What I am saying is yea! by using the imagery of my favorite band and hoping you, the reader use your imagination and enjoy.
        Nothing new from me.

  2. Couldn’t make the game but it looked full and loud down there. Awesome stuff. Union stayed with it tonight. They were the better team and won in the end. Four straight and the first 2 months are officially erased. They moved the ball well. And sure they got a little lucky with Colorado hitting the cross bar on their free kick but hey other than the hiccup of giving up the goal the D was stellar. I have no real complaints. Winadjum played well. Nice to see. On to another winnable game next week at Salt Lake. Let’s make it 5!!

    • the stadium was more full last night than it has been all season. they announced the paid attendance as 18 and change and it seemed it

  3. Best win yet. Nothing like rallying from behind. Medunjanin’s free kick might have broken the sound barrier. What a rebound for this team.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Credit to the Union for a needed win 4 weeks ago, then the Town Hall, with the Fresh Prince of Chill Air, accompanied by some timely PSP articles and interviews. Winning is an elixir. Playing well (mostly) too.

      Seems the culmination of all this has provided a fan base with needed belief…which then spun on itself like an ouroboros and now energy elevates.
      Or not. Too much philosophy.

  4. Mark Butters says:

    I refuse to acknowledge Curtin as a competent manager until he begins to find some form of rotation on these mid-week game situations. Pablo made 7 changes, to an already terrible side, and fresh legs saw them lead, and then hang around for a while. We heard all about depth and 2 deep… show us.
    I know, we won, I should not complain. When we were down I was going to write this. When Col hit the bar I needed to write it. 3 pts just doesn’t ease my mind of the fact that Jims stubborn ways will cost us against better teams.

    • There were maybe 5 guys on the squad who needed rest, and 3 who REALLY needed it. Curtin rested 2 of them. Last year he would’ve rested nobody. Arguably, resting 5 guys really jeopardizes your chance at 3 points. Progress?

      • el Pachyderm says:

        JC says in his presser the data shows MLS teams lose when 4 or more starters are rested…. good call, sir.

      • That’s a very interesting stat if true and if so then I guess his reluctance is understandable. I just wonder how much it costs down the road though.

      • Soooo…the team gets TWO weeks off in June AND July….and folks are going to squawk about squad rotation!?!?!.
        GTFO of here. Seriously. Pablo changed 7 players!!! waaaaaa!!!! Jim should do the same!!!! Jim Sucks!!!
        Seriously? What 7 players are you bringing in exactly? The ONLY reason Colorado had the lead was because of a mistake made by a rookie defender. Let’s not act like Colorado was dominating play in the first half. They scored on their only shot on goal in the ENTIRE game.
        Oh, and Curtin made half time adjustments that allowed the Union to get back into the game. What adjustments did Pablo make? Add another parking brake to the bus???

      • That stat may be true, but does he have data that shows the benefit over the course of the season of resting your starters for one game, even if it means sacrificing those 3 points? How many points did they sacrifice in the final stretch of last season because CJ was gassed? Maybe if Curtin rested him a few times earlier in the season he wouldn’t have been run into the ground when they really needed him in the home stretch and playoffs. May be has such data, but it also is not too difficult to find some kind of metric to justify a preexisting assumption or bias if you really want to believe.
        I’m not complaining about 4 straight wins, but now that we are in the playoff picture again, Curtin needs to remember the lessons he (should have) learned from last year about the length of the season.

    • i was wondering if i was going to see any comments saying curtin is bad after he guided the team to its first ever 4 game winning streak

    • Pretty sure if you offered Rapids fans a swap of coaches, they’d take it in a heartbeat.

    • Just Woke Up says:

      “I know, we won, I should not complain”
      – The only part of your post I agree with. Only I would say “I know, we have a franchise record 4 game win streak, I should not complain.”

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Not the greatest performance during the current streak but 3 points is 3 points. The Union showed that they are not a strong possession team and don’t look good when they have too much of the ball.
    The red card was sheer stupidity by Calvert. That being said, Rivero called a horrible game. He pretty much lost all control with his lack of cards in the first half and made a LOT of poor calls in the 2nd. Fortunately, they went both ways including one right in front of me where Wijnaldum clearly fouled one of the Rapid players to hold on to the ball and Rivero called it in the Union’s favor.
    Definitely a good game to get there early for as there were 2 military skydivers who came down on the field during the pregame as part of military appreciation night.

  6. Finding ways to get it done! Well done Union!

  7. The Rapids assistant coach that got thrown out right after Calvert’s red card, was that really Conor Casey?

  8. Stream of consciousness:
    Impressive stretch. I’m expecting competency from here on out. Liked the two players rotated in. Bad luck with Herbers but Pontius did well. Subs were ok.
    A lot of ground to make up but it’s not too late. CJ may be reinvigorated with the penalty. Keep on scoring!
    Haris is the engine. Ilson Jr is looking better and better.
    And with this, Talen is alive again. Great crowd. Awesome.

  9. The team seems to really be coming together. I was extremely down on them early and often, but they deserve credit. So does Jim and the staff. What can I say, except another week of happiness.

  10. HopkinsMD says:

    Congratulations to the Union!
    Get well soon, Herbers.

  11. And what happened during that scrum after the penalty call? I coulda swore I saw Timmy take a swing at somebody.

    • He and Gooch had some … words. Plus a little shoving.
      Pretty sure it was a disagreement about the red card that wasn’t shown.

  12. Last night was electric! I think the physicality of the game incensed the crowd and it was the loudest it has been all season. Mighty fine win on a short rest.
    Wijnaldum started off slow but I felt, as time went on, he started to get more comfortable in the game.

    • That dribble into the box where he beat 2 defenders (and looked comfortable doing it) is a darn good sign!

    • I agree. Wijnaldum was decent but tentative in the first half. Particularly after the red card, he kinda said, “Screw this” and seemed a lot more comfortable taking it to them. All in all a good debut. And I’m very happy that we seem to have a decent backup for Fabi!

  13. When you get the breaks – a weak visitor implodes & calls go your way – you must capitalize. The U did, converting those two kicks. Again. Confidence building.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Yes, in contrast to Milan Kundera’s excellent novel, we could call it: The Bearable Lightness of Being.

  14. Chase Beran says:

    Wijnaldum > Fabinho, We were all thinking it

  15. Matt Thornton says:

    There was a Houston player who got a second yellow card in a 0-0 game against the U a few years back, and that ranked as the worst Red card I’ve seen in Union competitive history…until last night when Calvert stole the crown.

    • When the ref gave a guy a card for time-wasting on a throw-in, but forgot that guy was already on a yellow? That was pretty funny. This one was funnier.

  16. Corben Bone might disagree.

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