Despite taking a 3-1 lead into the 75th minute, Philadelphia Union were only able to hold on for a 3-3 draw against the Colorado Rapids Saturday night at PPL Park. Michael Lahoud was shown a straight red card in the 76th minute for a dangerous play when he tried to clear a ball with an overhead kick, striking Colorado’s Jared Watts in the face.
The Rapids took advantage of their manpower advantage by converting the resulting penalty kick and adding a late Deshorn Brown goal to salvage a point on the road.
Conor Casey and Dillon Serna traded goals two minutes apart in the first half before Sheanon Williams put the Union in the lead going into the break with a powerful header from a Cristina Maidana corner kick. Andrew Wenger would score to give the Union a two-goal cushion, but what seemed to be a sure victory turned to disappointment after Lahoud’s ejection.
“Obviously when you’re up 3-1 at home, you should close out the game,” interim head coach Jim Curtin said after the draw. “You can talk about the ref, and all the calls all we want, but at the end of the day we should still close that game out on our own terms.
“A lot of good performances went to waste tonight,” Curtin added. “That’s what it felt like. A lot of really good performances by guys really went to complete waste. It’s tough.”
Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that defeated New England in the US Open Cup on Tuesday. Ethan White made his first appearance for the Union, replacing the suspended Maurice Edu, and Michael Lahoud, suspended for Tuesday nights game, reclaimed his spot alongside Amobi Okugo in the central midfield at the expense of Brian Carroll.
The Union would get their first chance of the match in just the 13th minute. Danny Cruz did well to intercept Drew Moor’s pass to Shane O’Neill, whose late challenge toppled the Union winger, earning the Rapids defender a yellow card for his trouble. Cruz stayed down after the hard tackle, but was eventually able to continue. Cristian Maidana then served up a lovely free kick from 35 yards that Conor Casey was able to get a glancing header on, but the ball ended up just wide of goal.
The Union would open the scoring just three minutes later. A fantastic sequence from Philadelphia saw the ball go from left to right through Cristian Maidana, Fabinho, Sebastien Le Toux, Lahoud, and Casey before the big striker laid the ball off to the right side for Ray Gaddis to run onto. The right back took his time looking for a cross before perfectly picking out Casey, who powered in his shot from 7 yards at the near post.
The lead would be short lived, however, with Colorado equalizing just two minutes later. The goal began with a break down the Rapids right side that saw Dillon Powers get the ball to Dillon Serna on the edge of the box. The Rapids midfielder did well to round Fabinho and create space for a shot, which he blasted past a stranded Zac MacMath.
The Union would have a chance to regain the lead a few minutes later. Chaco Maidana led a Union break after a cleared a corner and found Lahoud wide open down the right wing. The midfielder appeared to have time and space to take a shot himself, but he chose to pass and the move ended with Cruz shooting wide.
Philadelphia would regain the lead in the 31st minute when more fluid movement from the Union saw Cruz get loose for a shot from 10 yards, which Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin did well to parry away for a corner kick. Sheanon Williams would cash in from the resulting corner, meeting Maidana’s well placed service to head past a helpless Irwin from close range.
The Union would start the half brightly, looking to add to their lead. Okugo got on the end of a long Williams throw in the 50th minute and headed just over the bar from 6 yards.
Soon after, Le Toux finished a rebound after Lahoud’s shot was saved, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Substitute Andrew Wenger would give Philadelphia a 3-1 cushion with a close range finish in the 75th minute. Okugo did very well to fight through multiple challenges as he broke down the left side, getting in a cross just before the end line. The ball fumbled past Casey and two Rapids defenders and broke to Wenger, who was able to poke a rolling finish into the empty net.
But the Rapids would respond quickly once again to cut the lead when, in the 76th minute, a hopeful ball was played toward the Union’s back post. Lahoud attempted what would have been a spectacular overhead clearance, winning the ball but also clipping Jared Watts in the face. Referee Sorin Stoica wasted no time pointing to the spot and producing a straight red card for Lahoud.
Powers would step up to take the penalty kick. A stutter step on the run-up sent Zac MacMath the wrong way and Powers finished to the right side.
While Brian Carroll and Aaron Wheeler were introduced to see the game out for the Union, the Rapids had other plans. Williams and White had done well to contain Dershorn Brown throughout the match, but the Colorado striker would find a moment of brilliance to tie the game in the 86th minute. Williams tried to jump in front of a pass to Brown’s feet at the top of the box, but the Rapids striker held off the Union defender with a smart bump and turn before coolly finishing past MacMath into the far corner.
Both teams would push for a winner in the last moments of the game but the final whistle blew with the scoreline level at 3-3.
Before the postgame fireworks display could begin over the Delaware River, sparks would fly on the pitch.
As players and staff from both teams engaged in the customary postgame exchanges, Amobi Okugo was shown a red card by referee Sorin Stoica. Sheanon Williams was also seen screaming at referee and his crew as they made their way off the field.
In his press conference after the game, Jim Curtin would not comment on whether the team would appeal the card.
“The refs were obviously upset and people were commenting on different things to them,” Curtin explained after the game, “It got relayed that Amobi might have said something that maybe wasn’t said. At the end of the day it’s not going to do any good to complain to those guys at the end of the game. Probably a waste of breath and now it’s going to cost us losing Amobi, so not smart on his part at all. Again, not going to change anything at that stage so he’s just got to accept it and take it for what it’s worth.”
The Union have a quick turnaround before playing host to local rivals New York Red Bulls on Wednesday at PPL Park. Kickoff for the nationally televised game is at 7 pm.
Zac MacMath, Fabinho, Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, Ray Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Michael Lahoud, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 69′), Cristian Maidana (Aaron Wheeler 82′), Conor Casey (Brian Carroll 80′)
Unused Subs: Andre Blake, Austin Berry, Brian Brown, Vincent Nogueira
Clint, Irwin, Shane O’Neill, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Marc Burch, Jared Watts (Marion Hairston 78′), Dillon Powers, Kamani Hill (Carlos Alvarez 65′), Dillon, Serna (Gabriel Torres 83′), Nick LaBrocca, Deshorn Brown
Unused Subs: John Berner, Danny Mwanga, Thomas Piermayr, Chris Klute
16 – PHI: Casey (Gaddis)
18 – COL: Serna (Powers)
31 – PHI: Williams (Maidana)
74 – PHI: Wenger (Okugo)
79 – COL: Powers (PK)
86 – COL: Brown (Torres)
12 – COL: O’Neill (foul)
29 – PHI: Lahoud (foul)
34 – COL: LaBrocca (dissent)
76 – PHI: Lahoud (serious foul)
90+4 – PHI: Okugo (not visible)
|Philadelphia Union||Colorado Rapids|
|11||Attempts on Goal||15|
|6||Shots on Target||5|
|5||Shots off Target||8|
|17||Open Play Crosses||20|
|1||First Yellow Cards||2|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|47.5%||Duels Won %||52.5%|
|69%||Passing Accuracy %||83%|