Rapids hit playoff form and put four past sorry Philadelphia.
The stadium may be a mile high, but an early defensive lapse brought the Philadelphia Union crashing down to Earth almost immediately. After a slow start, with the two sides trading half chances, Omar Cummings sauntered in unnoticed into the Union box, and stuck his toe on the end of a low Mac Kandji cross, putting the Rapids ahead in the seventh minute.
Cummings wasn’t finished. After the interlude of a yellow card against Union captain Danny Califf for tripping up Mac Kandji, another display of poor defending found Cummings unmarked on the far post for a Jamie Smith corner kick. Cummings acrobatically redirected the cross between the legs of Amobi Okugo and past the helpless Brad Knighton.
In the minutes immediately following Cummings’s outburst, Colorado seemed to have Philadelphia shell-shocked. In stark contrast to the Union’s dominant performance against Chivas USA on Saturday, Colorado controlled the match, frustrating all of the Union’s efforts with relative ease. Pablo Mastroeni was especially impressive anchoring the midfield, while Wells Thompson nearly added a third goal in the 30th, his low shot from the edge of the area skipping wide of the post.
The visitors looked completely lost at times as their efforts to create some kind of offensive response repeatedly failed. Passes went astray and possession was given up far too easily as the Union were bossed by a confident Colorado side.
The half finally livened up a notch as Philadelphia began to recover from their earlier shock. Justin Mapp may have misplaced several passes, but his running down the flank was a threat as the Union searched for a way back into the match.
The recovery was short-lived, however, as Colorado re-asserted their dominance on home turf. Brad Knighton’s penalty area was bombarded with crosses, and Cummings shot over in the dying moments of a half the Union was more than happy to put behind them.
In a bid to turn his team’s fortunes around, Peter Nowak decided to gamble by making all three of his team’s substitutions at half, opting for youth over experience and bringing on Jack McInerney, Andrew Jacobson, and Kyle Nakazawa on in place of Justin Mapp, Stefani Miglioranzi, and Fred.
But it was Colorado who again had the first real chance of the half. Streaking down the left side past the Union defense, Philadelphia’s bugbear, Omar Cummings, cut inside and put his shot past Brad Knighton but also past the far post, another reminder of the damage he had caused in the first half.
And when the scoring opened in the second half, it was once again the Rapids who put the points on the board. Pablo Mastroeni’s driven free kick was saved by Brad Knighton, but Wells Thompson pounced on the rebound and slotted home to compound Philadelphia’s misery and further cement Colorado in the driver’s seat.
Philadelphia could seemingly do nothing to force a goal. Played through with an excellent ball by Michael Orozco, Sebastien Le Toux uncharacteristically lost control of the ball and fell after becoming entangled in the legs of Kosuke Kimura.
Brad Knighton, who was much better than the scoreline implied, saved some of the Union’s blushes in the 80th, stonewalling Kandji and pouncing on the loose ball before the rebound could be knocked home.
The comprehensive win for Colorado became a full-fledged rout in the 86th. Penetrating the left flank again, Kandji found the feet of Quincy Amarikwa, who redirected past Knighton and made it 4-0 to the Rapids.
And just when it seemed darkest for Philadelphia, Jack McInerney found a consolation goal for Philadelphia. Running down the middle, McInerney laid the ball off to Andrew Jacobson, who crossed back into the center. The ball deflected off of a Colorado defender and McInerny finished assuredly to spare the Union the shame of a clean sheet.
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