This was an important game for both sides, and not just because the Rocky Mountain Cup was at stake. Before this match, the Colorado Rapids had 43 points, in second place in the Western Conference. They were two points behind Dallas FC, and just three points ahead of Real Salt Lake. After the game, RSL moved up to tie the Rapids in the standings (though we have two games in hand), and remains unbeaten at home.
In the first half, RSL dominated with almost 64% of possession, but didn’t really play that great. The Rapids pressed the defense really hard and I was sure they were going to make a mistake. Early in the game, Dominique Badji fired in a shot that Nick Rimando saved, but rebounded right back out. Luckily, Shkëlzen Gashi was there to clean it up and put it in the back of the net to put the Rapids in an early lead. It was the first time the Rapids had scored in the first 15 minutes of a game this season, and they were the last MLS team to do so.
Unfortunately, Demar Phillips put a ground ball into the box that Yura Movsisyan kicked in to tie up the game in the 39th minute. What sucked about that play (besides the goal, obviously) was that Eric Miller essentially passed the ball perfectly to Phillips when he tried to clear it.
Overall, the Rapids defense was actually having a great game (with a couple exceptions), but the offense was not timing the passes or runs properly.
As far as the starting XI, Marco Pappa had a couple off passes (and one terrible pass), but overall looked decent. With all the pressure that the Rapids are putting on the RSL defense, this would have been a great game for Marlon Hairston to snag a slow pass. But he is out due to an injury from practice this week. Hopefully it’s nothing serious because we could really use him. And Jermaine Jones, but who knows when he will actually be back. Would have been nice to see Sébastien Le Toux on the pitch tonight, but he is also out with an injury (perhaps his back again?).
RSL started the second half aggressively, while the Rapids came out a little “flat” (Marcelo Balboa’s word), and Movsisyan scored again, this time from the top of the 18 after Axel Sjöberg got completely burned and gave him an open lane.
In the 57th minute, Marc Burch allegedly brought down Movsisyan in the box (aka he flopped). Luckily for the Rapids, Movsisyan choked and the shot went wide. Then in the 61st minute, Pablo took out Dillon Powers (who just earned a yellow card) for Michael Azira, and took out Badji for Caleb Calvert. I was surprised that Pablo put Calvert in a game like this for his MLS debut, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
As we got closer to the 80th minute, we needed to start sending players forward and trying to actually score. Instead, Eric Miller came in on a poorly timed slide on Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez in the box, and RSL gets another penalty kick. Tim Howard COMES UP HUGE and saves the shot. Howard was working hard for the offense, but they were not working as hard for him. In fact, his PK save was so sweet that it earned him Moment of the Match even though the Rapids lost.
Pablo and the Rapids have some work to do and some stuff to figure out, and they need to do it quickly.
Oh, and we lost the Rocky Mountain Cup.