CHESTER -- Failing to recover from the defensive and goaltending mistakes that doomed them in their season-opening defeat, the Union dominated but fell into the same trap, dropping their home opener to the Colorado Rapids, 2-1, Sunday night at a packed PPL Park.
It was the second tough loss in a row for the Union, who were defeated by the Portland Timbers, 3-1, last Monday in their season opener. Now out-scored 5-2 on the season, answers must come quickly for the third-year team.
Trailing by two, but not short on offensive opportunities, the Union finally found the back of the net in the 67th minute. Recovering his own rejected corner kick, Roger Torres fired the ball back into the box. The line-drive cross found the head of Lionard Pajoy, whose redirection met no resistance and slipped just inside the right post to cut the Rapids lead in half, 2-1.
But the Union couldnt gain the ground lost in the second half.
Despite falling on the wrong side of the ball for much of the game, the Rapids still managed to open scoring in the 56th minute on a mistake from 20-year-old rookie Zac MacMath, the young goalies second in as many games.
Rapids Omar Cummings deked around Carlos Valdes and gained the open cross, which he immediately played into the box. Trying to contest the lofty pass, MacMath moved out and leaped to grab the ball only to come short, allowing Jaime Castrillon, situated on the opposite side, to kick home the 1-0 Rapids advantage.
The Union earned a fortunate scenario just two minutes after the goal as the Rapids' Jeff Larentowicz illegally tackled Keon Daniel to bring in his second yellow card of the day and subsequent ejection.
Even with the man-advantage, the Rapids scored again.
Driving through a falling Chris Albright alone on the wing, Tony Cascio carried the ball in solo on MacMath. With Valdes working to recover but failing to occupy Cascios space, the Rapids player got off a clean shot that hit MacMaths foot and found net, making it 2-0.
The opening half was one of opportunity missed for the Union, who controlled play and piled up fruitless chances. In the 24th minute, Albright, in for Danny Califf, chipped a Sheanon Williams throw-in that was threatening but gobbled up by goaltender Matt Pickens. Three minutes later, Gabriel Gomez tried to pick the right post on a free kick that was saved by a diving Pickens.
The Rapids bent defensively, but ultimately kept their composure. Fending off a dangerous free kick in the 45th minute by Gomez and nine chances on net in total, they were able to take the lopsided contest scoreless into the half.
The home-opening loss was the first in the third-year Union history.Union homegrown player Cristhian Hernandez made his first-ever appearance in the 71st minuteThe attendance at PPL Park was a complete sellout of 19,074.
(More coming ...)E-mail Ryan Bright at RyanBright13@gmail.com