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Mastroeni, Nyassi power win

July 29, 2011 | 9:36 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Bring on the Eastern Conference leaders, please.

The Colorado Rapids faced the conference leaders for the second time in nine days and emerged with three points. This time it was in Philadelphia where the Rapids defeated the Union 2-1.

While it wasn’t as dominating as the 4-1 beating Colorado delivered to the New York Red Bulls on July 20, it was an even more rare creature. Philadelphia had been undefeated (5-0-4) at home prior to the Friday loss.

Credit for the win goes to a crafty veteran, a speedy newcomer and a stalwart ‘keeper. Pablo Mastroeni delivered his first goal of the season in the 35th minute. Mastroeni took a throw-in from fellow veteran midfielder Brian Mullan, cutback on a defender and delivered the ball to the far left corner.

Just before the half, Sanna Nyassi doubled the margin. Omar Cummings dribbled upfield in the 45th minute and passed it to Nyassi, who zipped past the Union defense before punching in his fourth goal in three games at forward.

Philadelphia’s rally took a significant hit in the 65th minute when Sheanon Williams was ejected for abusive language. The Union, however, continued to get the better of play despite being a man down.

Preserving the win was all up to the defense, and ‘keeper Matt Pickens came up strong. Pickens recorded five saves on the night, none bigger than after Roger Torres scored in second-half injury time. With the lead halved, Carlos Valdes appeared ready to give the Union a last-second share of the points. Pickens, however, got a right hand on that final header to preserve the win.

With the win, Colorado improved to 8-6-10, 34 points, and moved to fourth in the Western Conference. Philadelphia, 8-5-7, 31 points, remains tied with Columbus for first in the East.

Exceptional Assistant: Cummings picked up his sixth assist of the season. He has assists on all four goals Nyassi has scored.

Eastern Champions: The Colorado Rapids, who won the Eastern Conference thanks to the vagaries of MLS playoffs in 2010, have faced the Eastern Conference leaders four times this season. The Rapids have two wins and two draws in those matches.

Beware the Crew: The team now tied with the Union, the Columbus Crew, has been the exception to the Rapids run against the best of the East. The Crew, which Colorado faces at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Aug. 5, beat the Rapids 4-1 in Columbus on June 26.

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