The story of the match was supposed to be about the youngest starting backline in MLS history (Average of 21 years, 115 days old), which is even more significant on a day where a 37-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic debuted earlier for LA Galaxy. However, the story was more of the same tune Philadelphia Union fans are used to: dropping points on the road in what was considered a winnable game against Colorado Rapids.
With an injury keeping veteran left back Fabinho out, Matthew Real, a homegrown player signed in the 2018 offseason, was handed his first start of the season. Also making his first appearance of the season was Ilsinho, who had been dealing with hamstring issues in the preseason.
The Union started the first half with 22 MPH pushing alongside them, which turned out to be the strongest presence going forward for the blue and gold on the night. Philadelphia held 55 percent possession in the first half, while getting a whopping zero shots on target. The Rapids had the best chance of the first half off a corner, but it was stopped after a tremendous save by keeper Andre Blake and good defensive positioning by Matthew Real.
After going into the locker room scoreless at halftime, Colorado opened up the game quickly with several chances early on. In the 53rd minute of play, Dominique Badji took a headed ball down from Tommy Smith and scored his first goal of the night off of a corner kick (quick note: Colorado did not score a goal off of a corner in the 2017 season). Jack Elliott defended on the play but was a step behind Badji, who would come back to haunt him later in the half.
In the 61st minute, second half substitute Dillon Serna drove down the right side of the field and launched a ball to Badji who quickly dished to Johan Blomberg for a shot but was blocked by Elliott right into the feet of Badji who finished for his second of the night.
Ilsinho made his 2018 season debut in the 64th minute coming on for Fabian Herbers, who had been relatively quiet on the night. With the Union still looking for an offensive spark, Matt Real was taken off in the 76th minute for Cory Burke, leaving three defenders at the back for the remainder of the game.
Badji would get his hat trick (the first Colorado hat trick in seven years) in the 87th minute, taking a cross field long ball from Blomberg and beating Jack Elliott again to slot it past Andre Blake.
“Credit to Colorado on the night; it’s clear what they’re going to do, they’re going to play forward and they’re going to fight for second balls,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the match. “A little unlucky bounce on the second goal and then from there we are just chasing the game so overall still some decent performances from some guys, some guys can improve, we’ll look at the tape.”
With the loss the Union fall to 1-1-1 (6th place, 4 points) but return home next weekend to take on the San Jose Earthquakes (1-2-0) at Talen Energy Stadium at 7 p.m.