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Larentowicz scores; Union replies

August 14, 2010 | 3:42 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Jeff Larentowicz made the most of his Philadelphia homecoming on Saturday.

The Colorado Rapids midfielder picked up a yellow card in the 20th minute and then he delivered a scorching goal in the 59th as he made his first professional visit to his hometown. Larentowicz grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, and said before the match that his family had purchased plenty of tickets for the day.

Larentowicz’s goal, his second of the season, was not enough as Sebastien Le Toux carefully picked out Danny Mwanga in the 73rd minute, and Mwanga slotted the ball under ‘keeper Matt Pickens. Those were all the scores as the two teams settled for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw.

With the tie, the Rapids stand at 7-5-7 (28 points), which was enough to move them temporarily to fourth in the Western Conference and to ensure the squad wouldn’t be worst than fifth at the end of the day. The expansion Union improved to 4-10-5 (17 points). Philadelphia’s record is a bit deceptive because of the team’s road woes. The Union is now 3-2-4 at home and 1-8-1 on the road.

The result was a fitting one for a Rapids team that struggled in attack but defended well all day. For the Union, Le Toux’s ninth assist — to go along with nine goals — and Mwanga’s seventh goal of the season weren’t quite enough to get full points.

Yellow Alert: By the end of the match, four Rapids had picked up yellow cards. Besides Larentowicz, Omar Cummings (66th minute), Pickens (71st) and Jamie Smith (85th) each went into the referee’s book.

Casey Returns: Forward Conor Casey came on for midfielder Wells Thompson in the 61st minute. It was Casey’s first appearance since suffering a head injury in the dying moments of a July 25 loss to Seattle Sounders. Casey got a few touches, and despite not getting a shot, looked little effected by missing two games.

Deployment: The Rapids came out in a 4-4-2 with Cummings and Quincy Amarikwa at forward. The combination, which looked good at home a week earlier against San Jose, was ineffective in the first half. The Rapids managed four shots to the Union’s seven and earned no corner kicks in the first 45. Mehdi Ballouchy came on for Amarikwa at the half as the team switched to a 4-5-1.

Missing Clark: It was the first Rapids game without Colin Clark, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the win over San Jose. The speed of Clark, who went out with the same injury in ‘09, was missed on Saturday. Clark is scheduled for surgery next week and will miss the remainder of the season.

Being Tactical: Getting playing time for Casey made sense in the long run, but it was questionable on the afternoon. Pulling Thompson while nursing a 1-0 lead didn’t make much defensive sense. The move forced Cummings back into the midfield and back into defensive duties that he has not performed well. If the 4-5-1 was necessary, Claudio Lopez would have made more sense for his ability to hold the ball and distribute.

Still, it probably makes more sense to the team’s playoff hopes to get Casey back to game speed as soon as possible. Ah, to have a reserve league match… oh well.

Next: The Rapids remain on the road, facing the Columbus Crew next Saturday evening. Colorado beat the Crew 1-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on an  85th minute goal off the head of defender Drew Moor. The Rapids have only won once since that June 5 game.

Colorado’s next home game is Aug. 28 against the Houston Dynamo. The Rapids won’t see the Union again until Philadelphia makes its first trip to DSG Park on Sept. 29.

Rapids 11: Pickens, Marvell Wynne, Julien Baudet, Drew Moor, Kosuke Kimura, Thompson (Casey 61), Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Smith, Cummings, Amarikwa (Ballouchy 46). 

Union 11: Chris Seitz, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Danny Califf, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Jordan Harvey, Le Toux, Fred (Jack McInerney 86), Eduardo Coudet (Roger Torres 63), Stefani Miglioranzi, Alejandro Moreno (Justin Mapp 60), Mwanga.

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