Monday, June 6, 2011
Posted: 10 a.m.
By Ryan Bright
The Union held an opportunity on Saturday to retreat and give up against the reigning MLS champions, following a questionable second-half penalty kick.
They didnt take it.
I still believe it was a bogus PK against us, said coach Peter Nowak, whose squad tied the Colorado Rapids, 1-1. Its good to get the point. Im a little disappointed not to get three, but I think for us coming here, knowing how difficult its going to be, I think its a good motivation for next week. Were playing another MLS Cup Champion, Real Salt Lake at PPL Park on Saturday and its going to be a really tough game.
After the Rapids took the 1-0 lead in the 63rd minute on a penalty kick goal by Conor Casey at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, second-year striker Danny Mwanga fired back just three minutes later, lacing a hard and bending shot off the hand of Matt Pickens and in the net. It was his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
It was a great combination between me and Sebastien Le Toux, said Mwanga. He played me the ball and then made a really nice run behind the defense. I think they were caught in a position where they should stay with me or follow Sebastien. But they kind of chose to go with Sebastien and that gave me time to take a shot on goal.
The PK was kind of questionable but we kept our head up and we were still fighting until the end of the game. I think getting point here is good for our team.
After scoring the goal, Mwanga, who came off the bench in the 59th minute for Jack McInerney, ran immediately over to the sidelines and hugged his coach. Nowak couldnt have been happier.
I think it was a great combination in Sebastien and then Danny Mwanga hit a great shot, said Nowak. Im happy for them, because they worked very hard today. As I said, maybe a little disappointed not to get three points, but you cannot be too greedy coming here.
The goal, coming in the timely fashion that it did, was more than just an equalizer. It was a summation of the Unions mindset that they wont allow outside forces, like bad calls or fluke plays, to stunt their efforts.
Instead of falling apart when the going gets tough, the Union fight harder and that fact has shown in the standings. With 12 games played, the Union hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 6-3-3 record and have a two-game unbeaten streak on the road for the first time in team history.
Thats our team in a nutshell, said defenseman Jordan Harvey. We were playing well, I thought we were getting some chances in the start of the second half and I knew it was going to come eventually. That PK put a little stutter in our step right there, but like I said, we just kept playing and I knew we were going to get a chance. We had some chances and thats all you can really ask for coming here. Its a very difficult place to play.
While the victory had a sweet taste for the visitors, it wasnt without casualty. Coming off his two best games of the season, midfielder Justin Mapp, the reigning MLS Player of the Week, was pulled from the contest in favor of Keon Daniel in the 25th minute, for what is suspected to be a lower-body injury.
Mapp suffered a hamstring strain in early April and missed two games.
E-mail Ryan Bright at email@example.com
Related: Justin Mapp Is Your MLS Player of the Week MLS Standings