Of all the possible ways that the Colorado Rapids could have ended that drawing streak which had stretched to the point where they had set the MLS record for most draws in a row, I'd have to say that tonight's finish would never have crossed my mind as a possibility. Thanks to a late bit of luck, the Rapids snuck out of JELD-WAN Field in Portland - a place that has been known as a fortress all season long - with a 1-0 win in one of the more even games that have involved the Rapids all season long.
The game had a feel of a close one from the very beginning, as the Timbers and Rapids shared possession back and forth for large chunks of time. The Timbers took control near the beginning with several good set-piece opportunities, most of which drifted over the bar or wide. The half passed by fairly quickly overall, with very few great opportunities abound for either side despite several shots toward goal from both sides; I believe the half ended with the Rapids leading in shots 9-7. The best chance for Colorado came on a close range blast from starting striker Caleb Folan off a fantastic cross by Wells Thompson which Troy Perkins had to parry around the bar.
Injuries struck the Portland Timbers fairly early on as well. An early bump in the box left Kenny Cooper bleeding from his head, although he simply bandaged it up and got right back on the pitch. 'Futty' Danso wasn't quite as lucky, going down around 30 minutes into the match after going up for a ball with Caleb Folan - although it didn't look like there was much if any contact on the play - clutching his shoulder. He left the game on the stretcher soon afterwards.
As the second half started, the game began to open up quite a bit. Colorado sat back quite a bit in the half, letting the Timbers have the possession while waiting for a steal for a counter and the method worked quite well. Many times Colorado brought the ball quickly up the pitch compared to the Timbers relatively slow and controlled build ups - you can easily see the differing styles looking at the number of passes completed and the possession numbers in this game, both of which were won by the Timbers - but neither team were able to break through as the two goalkeepers continued to make fantastic saves. Jorge Perlaza was particularly dangerous, getting a couple of breakaways through but was unable to make anything of it as he was usually caught up to by Tyrone Marshall if he didn't shoot it wide.
Colorado began to possess much better starting around the 75th minute, which led to a lot of chances for the Rapids, but also a lot of counters for the Timbers. A late chance by Ryan Pore from Sal Zizzo went just wide, one of the last great chances in the game until deep into stoppage time. As the three minutes of stoppage time started to tick by, Portland coach John Spencer was thrown out of the game by the 4th official on the side-line, possibly for arguing the amount of stoppage given... I honestly have no idea why he was kicked, since he had been fuming on the sideline as he always does all game long.
The 92nd minute of stoppage finally brought the back and forth game to a halt and the Timbers Army down as a Jamie Smith cross found its way into the six yard box. Two shots were stopped by Perkins but the clearance never came for the Timbers and Drew Moor charged the ball with full speed, smashing it into the back of the net for the late dagger. The Timbers tried a counter attack and got a very late shot in the 94th minute of stoppage from Ryan Pore, but it sailed over the bar as the final whistle blew.
The defense held very strong as the game progressed, with only Scott Palguta leaving something to be desired. Kosuke Kimura had his best game in weeks, Drew Moor was his usual self and Tyrone Marshall continued his brilliant 'comeback' year with some amazing plays on defence throughout the match. Palguta was dispossessed several times as the game went on but managed to keep himself from having too terrible a match as we're used to from him!
It doesn't matter how it happened. It just feels good to win. Colorado now has a 9 game undefeated streak as well as a surprising 5 game undefeated streak on the road, both franchise records. 2-0-7 might not seem to be a great streak, but it's moved the Rapids into 4th in the West and this team
MAN OF THE MATCH: Two way tie between Matt Pickens and Drew Moor. Both had brilliant performances and Moor got his second goal of the year.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Heck, even Palguta played fairly well. I got nothing for this one.