Had you told me that the Rapids were going to win against the Montreal Impact on Saturday, I would have told you that you were a bit crazed.
Had you told me that the Rapids were not only going to win, but win on a game-winning goal by Tony Cascio, I would have told you that you were a madman.
Had you told me that the Rapids were going to win on a Tony Cascio game-winning goal in a game where seven goals were scored, I would have likely had you sent off for some psychotherapy in a padded room with some very powerful medication.
Yet, here we are with three points out of one of the toughest fortresses in Major League Soccer after one of the best offensive showings that the Rapids have ever put on in what has to be one of the most entertaining affairs that they've ever taken part in.
I'll admit that at the start, I had concerns. I had spoken at length the day before about how I felt speed and variety would be the best orders of the day if the Rapids were to get goals, and against the slowest defense in MLS they instead trotted out a front three of Nick Labrocca, Edson Buddle and Atiba Harris. Turns out that I needn't have worried, as even those three were fast enough to take on Montreal with few problems.
Harris was the first to put his mark on the game, giving Colorado an early lead in the 24th minute by climbing the proverbial ladder on a free kick from Dillon Powers and sailing a header over Troy Perkins into the far corner. As per usual, the narrative didn't stay that way for long, with Colorado's early lead crumbling in a matter of minutes. Montreal scored two beauties in a five minute stretch to take the lead before half-time, one coming on an error from Clint Irwin, who pushed the ball right at Hassoun Camara. Camara chipped it in from his back, bicycle kick style. The second came on a beauty of a curler from Daniele Paponi, who was given a bit too much space by Drew Moor, but finished wonderfully regardless of the marking.
Did I mention already that Colorado was winless going into this one when they had allowed a single goal to be scored, let alone two? I tweeted this, legitimately curious to see if their good 45 minutes (goals aside) would be wasted:
I'm very interested to see how they respond in the second half. Other than a super finish and an unfortunate set piece, Rapids looked good.— Burgundy Wave (@Burgundywave) June 29, 2013
Turns out there were some tricks in the Rapids' sleeves yet.
After a first half that saw him seemingly afraid to shoot, Dillon Powers finally got involved in the action with a blind shot off a cross from Nathan Sturgis, fortunately left unmarked after some ball watching by Montreal's back line. How often has Colorado battled back to tie from being a goal down this year? It's been a rarity, and they actually managed to do it twice.
A bit of pinball defending and what looked like confusion in the man-marking left Paponi open for his second goal of the game in the 72nd minute, right as Oscar Pareja was readying a change in game plan by introducing the energy and speed of Deshorn against a tired Montreal defense. It worked almost immediately. Brown started pestering them right from the get-go and eventually his work paid off when a shot from the top of the box deflected nicely toward Chris Klute at the byline. His cross was fantastic, Deshorn was unmarked on his run and the Rookie of the Year candidate had his fourth goal.
Now, here's the twist: Oscar Pareja didn't sit back on the tie, even though Montreal were pressing. Instead, he brought on another pacy guy in Tony Cascio. A bit of a ballsy move, considering his awful recent form, but still another move to get speed and touch out on the offense. It worked out in spades. Five minutes into stoppage time, Chris Klute made another superb play by tackling the ball away in the midfield, and streaking down the field with Brown at his side. His pass toward Brown was deflected by Patrice Bernier backwards, and hearts were in stomachs for a few seconds as it looked like the most golden of opportunities would go wasted.
On came Tony Cascio, snatched onto the ball and shot that thing as hard as he could. It deflected off of Bernier, Troy Perkins never saw the angle. Boom. 4-3. Ball game.
And oh yeah, three points.