"He's almost giving birth to kittens underneath us."
That was Richard Fleming's assessment of Pablo Mastroeni as the clock hit 90 minutes during Colorado's match against the Columbus Crew, and it wouldn't surprise me if that description wouldn't have been fitting for about 70 of the minutes before that, as well. Despite a very good opening 20 minutes, the Rapids were very sloppy against a tight and controlled Columbus Crew defense and could only get a draw out of their 4th of July match for the third time in five years, this time 1-1.
The first 20 minutes of the match were pristine, though the Rapids never found a goal. Dillon Powers and Vicente Sanchez did some brilliant work together, showcasing just how dangerous this Rapids team can be at essentially full strength -- them being the Rapids, though, finishing was hard to come by. Unfortunately, Columbus' strong defense was able to hold Deshorn Brown in check at the top, and the Crew weathered the storm to give themselves a chance to inch their way back in.
Thanks to a mediocre (that might be too generous) performance from the Rapids midfield all day, the Crew were given ample opportunities to start sneaking the possession game back in their favor. Nick Labrocca and Jared Watts seemed out of sorts as a midfield pairing, and the Crew ended up getting the match back in their favor with lots of possession and some decent opportunities falling their way -- them being the Crew, though, finishing was hard to come by.
The second half was more of the same from the Crew, who were holding onto the ball with purpose and looked the more likely side to score first. In fact, it was the Crew who tallied first, but into the wrong net. Vicente Sanchez looked the goalscorer at first in the 59th minute, though the header that he got with Eric Gehrig ended up being called an own goal in the end.
At that point, it might have been smart to close up shop, considering how much of the ball the Crew had been seeing. Pablo being Pablo though -- and I'm certainly not going to say this was the wrong approach, as I love his mentality -- continued trying to push the attack. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. The slop that the Rapids had been producing from the midfield came to an ugly head in the 76th minute. An uncharactaristic mistake from Dillon Powers, who threw the ball backwards towards... well, someone, we assume, ended up on the foot of Jared Watts, who clearly didn't expect it to be coming. As a result, he ended up giving a tap-in to Ethan Finlay.
Colorado were probably lucky that they didn't have even more goals against them, considering a very home-friendly performance by Hilario Grajeda that robbed the Crew of a few more free kicks and, arguably, a red card as well. This may have been the worst performance by the Rapids on a July 4th game since the 2012 bed-wetting against Vancouver. It's certainly one of the worst that I can remember. At the very least, we'll get a good fireworks display and not have to dwell on a mediocre result against a Western Conference team. That's something we can't always say.
Happy 4th of July, mediocre match or not, Rapids fans!