If you go behind on the road, and you've got your work cut out for you. Go on to earn a red, and a commit a foul in the box, and only a Harry Houdini-like escape will get you points on the road.
But earn a great escape they did, as the largest skyscraper in Stockholm, Axel Sjoberg, headed home a floating short cross from Kevin Doyle to equalize, 2-2, at the death, and the Rapids escape from Canada with a hard fought point.
Rapids fans looked forward to seeing their best attackers on the field in this one, as the lineup we've all been waiting for of Jermaine Jones, Marco Pappa, Shkelzen Gashi, and Kevin Doyle was announced before gametime. But Jermaine was a late scratch, replaced by Dillon Powers.
The Rapids surrendered a goal on a set piece into the box to the towering Kendall Waston at the 9th minute, then spent the better part of the rest of the game desperately trying to grab the equalizer.
In the first half, the Rapids outshot the Whitecaps 10 to 4, with 5 of those on target, and out possessed the Canadian club 66-34 in the first frame, to no avail. Shkelzen Gashi and Kevin Doyle each led the team in the first half with three shots apiece. But David Ousted was equal to the task every time, stopping a number of threatening shots.
The Rapids finally broke through to equalize in the 59th minute, as Marco Pappa threaded a ball through to Shkelzen Gashi, who fed Kevin Doyle with a perfect ball to his feet at the right side. The Irish international slotted it home, finally beating the stellar ‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted.
The Rapids nearly jumped ahead just three minutes later, as Doyle got to the touchline and slipped a perfect pass to Gashi just 5 yards out. Gashi laced a ball just past the keeper, but Kendall Waston cleared it off the line with his head. The Rapids were on the front foot and a go-ahead goal felt imminent.
That all changed in the 72nd, when Eric Miller went to ground for a ball at the feet of Pedro Morales, and went through the midfielder for a foul. It was certainly deserving of a card, and referee Alan Chapman decided it deserved the straight red. Pablo Mastroeni swapped Marco Pappa off for March Burch to give a more defensive look, as the team was clearly gunning to gut out another draw.
The Whitecaps came hard, and only some great defensive work and a fantastic save by Tim Howard at the 77th kept it level. Then in the 87th, late sub Cristian Techera was brought down by Jared Watts in the box as his hand clutched the shoulder of the midfielder. Chapman pointed to the spot. Techera converted. 2-1, Whitecaps.
Down a man and on the road, the Rapids were forced to absorb pressure and hang on, and snatching road points from this one looked unlikely.
But the team with the motto ‘Keep Fighting' (thanks, Centennial 38) did just that, and bagged the tying goal with only a minute left in stoppage.
The draw keeps the Rapids rolling along mightily, as the team hasn't lost a game since April 10 on the road at Real Salt Lake. Sitting on 34 points, the ‘Pids trail FC Dallas for Supporters Shield by only three points as they move beyond the midpoint of the season.
Another game, another late escape. The team plays Sporting Kansas City at home next Saturday night for Tim Howard's second home appearance. For points we can clearly do better than tonight, but for excitement and theatrics, this game at BC Place would be hard to top.