Kill it dead for 75 minutes. Defend with six or seven players. Bring on the fresh legs late. Score. And hang on. The Rapids way of winning in 2016 continues in a game that look like a carbon copy of half a dozen other wins this year. It was Dillon Powers finding Marlon Hairston at the 78th to earn the Rapids their 14th unbeaten game in a row, while also staying perfect at home in 2016.
A first half that defined the term ‘cagey affair’, as both teams kept things tight but probed the opposing backlines a few times. The Rapids pushed fullbacks Mekiel Williams and Marc Burch forward and found a few half-chances. Meanwhile SKC generally dribbled into corners and earned corners, which rendered fruitless chances.
The Rapids found a few streaking runners, but a bevy of offside calls, correctly invoked or not, killed off the best chances Colorado could muster. There were a total of three offside calls in the first 30 minutes, all, in this writer’s opinion, dodgy.
Offensively, the Rapids first half highlights were a Shkelzen Gashi free kick at 20’, and a beaut of a dummy by gashi at 26’ that ended near the feet of Dillon Powers, but was swept away harmlessly by an SKC defender.
A muffed Watts pass at 32’ turned into SKC’s best threat of the game, but Burch and Sjoberg closed it down to render the threat neutral.
The second half opened with an injury, as Brad Davis came off with what looked like a thigh or groin injury, with Conor Hallisey replaced him.
Dom Dwyer got on his bike in the 54th, but it was directly at Tim Howard. The Rapids broke out immediately for a long play from Tim Howard directly to Kevin Doyle, who fed Dillon Powers for a great shot 10 yds out, but the midfielder skied it. Quickly back to the other end it went again; a great chance for SKC in the 55th was wasted directly into a scrum of blue and burgundy bodies, and the Rapids fended off a clear and present danger.
Marlon Hairston came on for Pappa at the 62th minute, as the latter was clearly gassed. It would prove to be a critical move.
There was nearly a goal for the burgundy soon after. Doyle slipped a great ball through to Marly in the 65th, but Tim Melia got big and stopped it cold.
In the 71st, SKC got the defense out of position and fired a dangerous cross into the middle towards an onrushing SKC attacker. Tim Howard came out for a clearance from 40 yards out at the 71st that showed a sweeper-keeper mentality, I don’t recall any Rapids keeper having in my time in the Mile High state. Admittedly, I’m a noob though.
In the 78th, Marlon Hairston intercepted a bad pass off the SKC backline and dropped it to Dillon Powers, while still carrying forward. Powers slipped that ball through to Marly on the left side, who shifted it deftly to his right and fired a shot, finding the top corner. 1-0, Rapids .
In the 92nd SKC sub Diego Rubio fell down in the box under close marking by Jared Watts. The collective oxygen was sucked out of DSGP, but the referee kept his whistle at his side, crisis averted. A failed corner, a Tim Howard catch, and a 40 yard shot turned away again by the Secretary of Defense, and the game was over.
It’s great to see the team keep on fighting, and making Dick’s an impenetrable castle to the opposition. Next week we face off against the biggest opponent of the year: leaders in the standings for Supporters Shield FC Dallas. Can we keep it going?
Fourteen in a row, and undefeated at home, in typical post-seventy-fifth minute style. These Rapids are something else.