We were eager to see how the Union would follow-up their best-ever scoring effort on the road in the Colorado altitude, and overall, they didn't disappoint, earning a 1-all tie against the Rapids. It would have been more encouraging to see a W and possibly another multi-goal game, but the biggest take-home from this one was the Union's composure in going hard for a goal after conceding the opening tally on a second-half PK.
Danny Califf took a penalty in the box, tugging the shoulder of Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni just hard enough to give Mastroeni cause to hit the turf and draw a call. Conor Casey took the PK and chipped it at the center of the goal as Faryd Mondragon went to his right. I didn't like Casey much before that, and I like him even less now.
But the Union weren't going to let that wilt them, and they soon answered with a gorgeous goal by Danny Mwanga from distance.
Mwanga was a sub on Saturday night, allowing for Jack McInerney to start his first ever match for the Union. Jack Mac had some fine plays in the first half, which isn't a surprise given how he's played as a sub to date. With Carlos Ruiz playing with Guatemala, the Union aren't necessarily any lighter in scoring. Mwanga came on fresh in the 58th minute and less than 10 minutes later had cause to run to embrace his coach. [Full Highlights below]
Both goalies had impressive showings, with Rapids keeper Matt Pickens in particular having a few amazing stops. In the 17th minute, he cut off a dangerous Jack Mac attempt off a Justin Mapp header pass. Later in the half, McInerney fed a precision pass up to Le Toux, but Pickens again closed off the space in the box and snuffed it out. Full marks to the bearded Rapids keeper.
Keon Daniel missed perhaps the game's best opportunity, skying a brilliant leading feed from Gabe Farfan in close. Daniel did play well overall again though, coming on as a sub for Justin Mapp and running the field from end to end, factoring into Mwanga's set-up too.
Mapp came out with what looked like a groin injury, pulling up as he streaked up the sideline and putting his arm up to call for a sub. Mapp had been looking good in his follow-up effort after earning MLS Player of the Week honors, but the Rapids were putting a beating on him, and his night didn't last long. Hopefully the rest will get him back out there soon, because his emergence has energized the Union's midfield efforts lately.
HOME IS WHEREVER I'M WITH THE U
Lots of empty seats in Colorado, which is unfortunate given that they're the reigning MLS Cup champions and the first-place club from the other conference was in town. For the good of the league, no matter who you root for, you want to see full stadiums, but it's a reminder of how good we already have it down at PPL Park.
The Union come home to host Real Salt Lake next Saturday.
Photo via the Union's Facebook gallery.