Union show serious resolve to earn victory over Rapids and move past season opener

Win in Colorado helps to make season opener a distant memory

Not only did the Philadelphia Union show some major resolve by defeating the Colorado Rapids, 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, they exorcised some other demons as well.

The season-opening 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City now becomes a distant memory with three points against the Rapids.

For the first time in six league matches, the Union managed to beat the Rapids. Another streak shattered.

The Union hung around an extra day because of the blizzard and still came out on top. The plane ride back to Philadelphia was undoubtedly a happy one indeed.

It wasn’t always pretty football, but Amobi Okugo and Jack McInerney each scored and the Union pulled out three big points on the road. The club won three road matches all of last season.

Read: Recap of a wild weekend in Colorado

“I was just telling our staff, ‘I’ve never seen our team, in particular, have as few passes and as few connected passes, but we still got a W,’” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be extremely difficult, we were going to have to drop our line, we were going to have to defend a lot more that we normally do. After going up a goal, we kind of sat back a little bit too much and gave them too much of the ball.

“They certainly tried to get the equalizer and did. To our guys credit, they fought hard and capitalized on a great sequence there to get the winner.”

Getting three points under adverse conditions says something about the character of the Union.

They sure proved their mettle after Colorado tied the match at 1-1. The momentum could have swayed the other way, but it didn’t. McInerney notched the game-winner in the  79th minute and erased all the disappointment from last week.

“We knew coming here was going to be a hard place to play regardless,” Okugo said, referring to the weather. “We already had in our mindset that there was a possibility that the game could get postponed. … This was a good win, but it is a long season and everyone is going to have to contribute.”

Second-year forward Antoine Hoppenot came on late in the second half and wound up delivering the pass which set up McInerney’s goal.

“We were able to convert our chances, and that’s what matters at the end of the day, if you’re able to create enough chances to put in the back of the net,” Hoppenot said.

McInerney showed his ability to finish last season and continued that trend when the Union needed it most on the road.

“He was huge for us today,” Hackworth said of McInerney. “He was really good in the preseason and came on and played well last week. He certainly deserved the start. When we were really struggling at the end there with a couple injuries, and we were out of substitutions, he was doing everything. Massive effort on his part.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com