By JOSE M. ROMERO
The Philadelphia Union have been one of the biggest stories of the MLS season with its play in the first half of the season. But Friday night at PPL Park just wasn't the second-year club's night.
The Colorado Rapids snapped Philly's 10-game unbeaten streak in MLS matches with a 2-1 win at PPL Park. That, and forward Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz is apparently on his way elsewhere, Coach Peter Nowak said following the match.
Ruiz did not suit up for Friday's game and was seen shaking hands with teammates while wearing street clothes.
"Carlos is no longer with us," Nowak said in postgame comments, according to the Union's official web site.
The impending departure of Ruiz — as of late Friday it was not known exactly what the nature of the roster move involving Ruiz entailed nor where he was headed — overshadowed a frustrating loss for the Union. Pablo Mastroeni and Sanna Nyassi scored the Rapids' goals, with Roger Torres providing Philadelphia's lone goal in an exciting stoppage time session.
Ruiz, a longtime MLS player and Guatemalan national, has two Golden Boot awards from his L.A. Galaxy days and is the all-time leader in postseason goals in the league with 16. He was the MLS MVP in 2002. He had six goals in 14 games for Philadelphia this season, and before coming to the Union on a transfer in February of this year played in Greece for Aris FC.
The Union have gotten quality play from forwards Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga this season, though neither scored Friday night.
In the 26th minute, the Union's Keon Daniel hit the top of the goal with free kick. Then Mastroeni came up big at the other end for Colorado in the 35th minute.
Mastroeni gathered in a feed, took a touch and dribble and cut in for a shot that curled into the net far post past goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon for a 1-0 Rapids lead.
The Union almost tied it in the 40th minute when Carlos Valdes flicked a set piece just over the goal.
As halftime neared, Nyassi sped past Valdes on the left flank and took a good pass from Omar Cummings, shooting the ball into the net on the run to give the Rapids a 2-0 lead.
Valdes, for that mistake, was active around the goal. His try off a corner kick from Le Toux in the 60th minute required a big save from Matt Pickens.
The game turned in the 64th minute when Union defender Sheanon Williams was issued two yellow cards successively for arguing a call. His red card ejection gave the Rapids a man advantage, but the Union were the more aggressive team in the late going.
Le Toux and Torres had good opportunities on goal that missed or were saved, then Torres scored three minutes into stoppage time.
The Union got one last solid chance before the final whistle, but Pickens save another Valdes header in front.
The Rapids (8-6-10) moved into fourth place in the West at 24 points and are undefeated in their last three matches.