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Snow Goals: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Colorado Rapids


Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Fernando Aristeguieta fired a shot from distance that was obviously deflected out for a corner kick. The linesman's initial signal was goal kick, but referee Silviu Petrescu, spotter of the obvious, came in and correctly ruled it a corner kick. The Union proceeded to waste the corner kick. Another Philadelphia Union season had begun.

The Union started out in a 4-4-2 with Rais M'Bolhi in goal, Ethan White and Steven Vitoria in central defense, Ray Gaddis on the left, Sheanon Williams on the right, Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira in midfield, Andrew Wenger and Sebastien Le Toux on the wings, and C.J. Sapong and Fernando Aristeguieta up top. It was an ambitious approach from Jim Curtin, but not the most practical way to attack Colorado Rapids team starting in central defense Bobby Burling and Axel Sjoberg, two men who average 6'6" in height.

The Union were the better side in the first half, but they struggled generating much in the way of quality chances, though it should be acknowledged they successfully held the Colorado Rapids to zero quality chances. The most work M'Bolhi had to do was grab hardly threatening balls out of the air, work he accomplished often with a tilt-a-whirl flair.

Sapong picked up what appeared to be a head injury at the end of the first half, paving the way for Curtin to replace him with Cristian Maidana. Though the circumstances of the substitution were unfortunate, from a tactical standpoint it was a sensible sub many fans had clamored for before the injury. Sapong had been struggling with misplays and Maidana is someone much more capable of dealing with the vertical length of Burling and Sjoberg.

The Rapids continued their streak of zero shots on target into the second half, never registering one throughout the entire game. Their best, nay, only chance of anything remotely close to quality came early in the second half when 2015 4th round Superdraft pick Dominique Badji had an open look at goal but badly flubbed the shot wide.

The Union were given an advantage in the 68th minute when Bobby Burling got sent off for a second yellow card picked up after he held Seba and dragged him down. Burling proceeded to give the Union yet another advantage by forcing the officials' hand to extend the amount of time the Rapids played down a man by throwing an epic 3-minute temper tantrum instead of just casually strolling off the pitch.

The Union had a great scoring opportunity come 10 minutes later. Wenger did a nice job at the corner of the box to get the ball to Aristeguieta despite being double teamed and then Nando nicely elevated the ball to Le Toux's head, but the opportunity vanished when Seba's head contacted the ball, directing it sadly wide.

But the Union were able to at least force Clint Irwin into action for one big save in the 86th minute. Aristeguieta took a free kick and sent it into second half substitute Conor Casey who got a head on it but Irwin made a great standing save and parried it wide for a corner, from which the Union accomplished nothing.

Burling's tantrum earned the Union six whole minutes of stoppage time with which to get a goal and snatch victory from the jaws of an upsetting draw, but the ball never found its way to the net. The 2015 Union season began with a 0-0 draw giving fans a feeling Union fans know much too well. And somehow, Union fans can come away from that game feeling better about themselves than Rapids fan can. What a tremendous team to not be a fan of the Rapids are.

Up next for the Union is their first road game of the season, and it's a trip to Utah to face Real Salt Lake. Here's hoping the Union's sake this time they bring creativity and attacking prowess in addition to the defense.