Problems in the final third doom Union to loss in Colorado.
Union first XI: Blake; Real, Trusty, Elliott, Rosenberry; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Accam, Dockal, Herbers; Sapong
Rapids first XI: Howard; Wynne, Wilson, Smith; Hairston, Blomberg, Price, Martinez, Castillo; Mason, Badji
I tried to think of something April Fool’s-ish or witty to lead off with, but the Union’s play in the final third on Saturday night near Denver was funnier than anything I could manage. Despite holding a huge possession advantage in the first half and with the literal and figurative wind at their back, they managed no shots on goal, not so much as mussing Colorado keeper Tim Howard’s non-existent hair. And when the second half started and the pitch was flipped, Colorado wasted little time getting on the board, albeit with a little luck. Dominique Badji tallied in the 53rd minute off of a corner kick that fell to him at the back post after he got goalside on Jack Elliott and which he deftly placed into the upper left corner, giving Union keeper Andre Blake no chance at it. Just eight minutes later, Badji struck again, this time picking up the loose change after Elliott blocked an initial shot and firing into a wide open net to give the Rapids a 2-0 lead.
On a hat trick and feeling it now, Badji completed the trick in the 87th minute on a counter with the Union pressing, taking a pass from Jack Price up the left side and going far post on Blake to seal the match.
This has been two straight matches which seemed to see the opponent play more defensive-minded in the first half and come out firing in the second half. It’ll be worth seeing if this pattern continues as the season goes on and how or if manager Jim Curtin adapts to it. Right now, the Union are struggling to generate shots on goal, something that must be addressed.
For my money, it’ll be good to see Fafa Picault on the right again. Ilsinho provided a little quality when subbed in late against the Rapids, but Fabian Herbers feels like he’s been non-existent on offense over there, allowing teams to concentrate on shutting down Sapong and Accam.
The Union next take the pitch on Saturday against the Quakes at 7 PM. It starts a string of three home matches in four fixtures and will tell us much about what this Union team is and how they’ll manage the rest of the season.