RSLing [arr-ess-ell-ing] Verb; To come back at the death of a football match despite tough circumstances and pull a result out of absolutely nowhere.
Sorry, that's the only way I can think to describe what I just saw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Coming into this game, the Colorado Rapids were loaded with injuries but with a huge crowd of over 17800 gathered against a team that was subpar on the road up until this point in the Montreal Impact, a result was almost a necessity. They switched things out a bit in order to try and throw the Impact off their game, putting back in the old 4-3-3 that started the season, with Andre Akpan up at center forward and Wells Thompson on the wing.
Hey, DC did some roster shuffling to get around injury when they played the Rapids and it worked out well for them, right? It was a windy night and the ball was acting screwy, so anything could have happened, and the Rapids were hoping than anything would. (Remember that part, it will be important later. There will also be a quiz!)
It didn't exactly start out in a stellar manner. One of the big keys to the match was the speed that Montreal possessed against the somewhat slow center back tandem of Drew Moor and Tyrone Marshall. Unfortunately, the Impact seemed to realize that and moved well through open space on the field, eventually trying to slip balls through the center backs and get good looks.
That strategy worked almost immediately as the Impact put together eight solid minutes of possession -- minus a good attempt by Jaime Castrillon in the fourth minute that almost resulted in a highlight reel goal from his back -- they got the first goal of the match through Patrice Bernier, who split past Tyrone Marshall and an onrushing, but not fast enough, Kosuke Kimura with a great pass from Felipe Martins and chipped it in one on one against Matt Pickens.
It didn't take too long for the Rapids to respond as Martin Rivero slipped a ball through to Wells Thompson in the box, where he was clobbered by Hassoum Camara and earned a penalty, which Jeff Larentowicz buried. Seventeen minutes in and we had already seen two goals, you had the feeling this one was going to be a barn burner.
As much as the Impact continued to terrorize the Rapids in open space all over the field even after the equalizer, there wasn't much room for celebration. Fortunately, the Rapids were able to pick up an advantage on a golden Martin Rivero free kick in the 39th minute into Drew Moor's head, which the center back buried for his second goal of the year. It was one of the few free kicks all game that the torrents of wind didn't blow far past where they were intended to be.
That first half, by the way, doubled the number of first half goals that the Rapids had scored all year until that point.
The second half, unfortunately, killed all of the goodness of the first. Still looking the hungrier team, the Impact came out strong and pulled another 'slip a through ball past Tyrone Marshall's terrible attempt at an offside trap' move to feed Andrew Wenger another easy 1v1 situation, which he buried to tie the game.
Again, Montreal continued to terrorize in the open space and it only got worse when Marshall, who had already locked in a Goat Of The Match award, earned himself a stupid red card in the 58th minute to push the Rapids down to 10 men. That forced Oscar Pareja to replace Andre Akpan with Scott Palguta (ALERT ALERT PALGUTA LEVEL FOUR) as well as put holding midfielder Harrison Henao into the game for his debut, which made it look like it was time for 30 minutes of bunker ball en route to a miserable point.
But hey, on a blustery night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, anything can happen. And 'anything' certainly did. Kamani Hill came in as the third substitute for Tony Cascio and immediately took the awful possession-less bunker balling that the Rapids were doing and started to make a few forward runs. Eventually, the Rapids possessing it in the attacking half forced a foul from Montreal.
That's when the magic happened.
Martin Rivero's free kick into the box wasn't the best, but the wind blew it right to the byline where Palguta was able to get a weak header on it, right to keeper Greg Sutton -- who had come in to replace an injured Donovan Ricketts earlier in the second half -- who knocked it over the bar. Except it wasn't over the bar. It bounced on top of the crossbar, and then bounced again. While Montreal looked on in awe expecting it to go over at any moment, Jaime Castrillon barged in and slammed home a header the second it dropped. 3-2, with an improbable Rapids winner in the final 10 minutes.
What more can you say?
MAN OF THE MATCH: Martin Rivero. Two assists, and he had the through ball that forced the PK on Wells Thompson. Not bad.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Tyrone Marshall. Absolutely pathetic all around. When Scott Palguta coming on for you increases the potency of the team, you're doing a bad job.