CHESTER, Pa. — The Colorado Rapids accomplished Friday night what no other team has this season: beat the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.
Fueled by goals from Pablo Mastroeni and Sanna Nyassi — and a sturdy defensive effort — the Rapids left Chester with a 2-1 victory over a Union team that had been 5-0-4 at home coming into Friday’s game.
Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy are now the only teams that have yet to lose in their home stadium this season.
Roger Torres provided one of the few highlights for the Union when his stoppage-time goal sliced Colorado’s lead to 2-1, and Carlos Valdés nearly tied it up right before the final whistle with what would been one of the most dramatic goals in franchise history. But his last-ditch header was batted right off the goal line by Rapids goalie Matt Pickens, who made five saves on the night.
Long before those final dramatics, the Union sputtered through one of their worst first halves of the season.
Mastroeni, Colorado’s crafty 34-year-old midfielder, struck first in the 35th minute, shedding his mark from Kyle Nakazawa, receiving a throw-in from teammate Brian Mullan, making a nifty cutback move to beat Valdés, and then hitting a perfect strike into the top left shelf. The goal was Mastroeni’s first of the season.
Then, right before the halftime whistle, Omar Cummings dribbled up the center of the field on a counterattack and made a sharp through pass to fellow speedster Sanna Nyassi, who zipped past the Union defense and made it 2-0.
Nyassi now has four goals in the last three games while Cummings, fresh off a start in Wednesday’s MLS all-star game, upped his team-leading assist total to six.
The Union had a couple of chances to score in the first half — namely on a Keon Daniel free kick that hit the crossbar and a Danny Mwanga volley that went just high and wide — but began to really apply more pressure in the second half.
Halftime substitutions Torres and Michael Farfan, both known for their creativity, made an immediate impact. In the 47th minute, Torres fed Farfan, who made a couple of nice cutback moves to get free in the box before his close-range shot sailed high.
Later, in the 58th, Torres’ free kick found the head of Valdés, whose header just missed the target. Valdés had another near-miss two minutes later when his one-timer of a Sébastien Le Toux cross was stopped by Pickens.
The Union’s comeback hopes took a turn for the worse in the 64th minute when Sheanon Williams, after getting taken down hard in the offensive third, argued with the referee, drawing a yellow card. When he kept at it, he was shown a red card.
Even down a man, the Union kept pressuring, but Pickens came up big again in the 83rd minute, stopping consecutive shots from Torres and Le Toux to help preserve the win.
The Rapids (8-6-10), who have now scored eight goals since standout striker Conor Casey went down with a torn Achilles, moved ahead of Real Salt Lake and into fourth place in the Western Conference with a win.
The Union (8-5-7), despite the loss, remain in a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Columbus Crew.
The Rapids are back in action next Friday with a home game against Columbus, while the Union travel to Chicago for a midweek game against the Fire on Wednesday night.
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni 1 (unassisted) 35
COL -- Sanna Nyassi 4 (Omar Cummings 6) 45
PHI -- Roger Torres 2 (unassisted) 92+
PHI -- Sheanon Williams (ejection; Abusive Language) 64
COL -- Caleb Folan (caution; Reckless Foul) 65
COL -- Brian Mullan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 67
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall (Scott Palguta 69), Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 78), Sanna Nyassi, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Omar Cummings (Caleb Folan 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Andre Akpan, Mike Holody, Jamie Smith, Steward Ceus.
Philadelphia Union -- Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Veljko Paunovic 72), Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres 46), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Michael Farfan 46), Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.
Substitutes Not Used: Jack McInerney, Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Claudio Badea; Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Cloudy and 89 degrees