Let me just start by saying if you’re expecting me to tear the team apart, that’s not going to happen. If you’ve read just about anything else I’ve written, you know it’s just not my style. Not because I’m a “cheerleader for the FO” or anything like that, and a garbage game is a garbage game, but tonight, the Colorado Rapids played a decent game until they didn’t. (Note: I originally said I try to focus on the positives, but I think that might have been misconstrued. I totally believe in holding the team accountable - I just go about it a different way than other people do, and yes, I tend to stay a bit more positive overall. That’s just my style as both a sports writer and as a fan.)
Everything started off alright. Some might even say good. Kortne Ford made his home debut and looked much more comfortable tonight than last week. He stayed closer to where he should be positioning himself as a center back. He made some key plays and ended up winning Man of the Match.
The Rapids had several chances in the first half. The offense was hit-or-miss, but we were seeing more from this team than we’ve seen in awhile. The defense was much tighter than last game, and Zac MacMath really didn’t have to work too hard.
In the 29th minute, Nana served up a pass to Marlon Hairston who crossed it in Kevin Doyle for a diving header past Nick Rimando to put the Rapids up 1-0. Right before the goal Nana went up for a header and Luke Mulholland undercut him so that Nana landed on his back. Mulholland had several fouls (including the undercut and taking out Dillon Powers), received several warnings, and kicked the ball off the boards, but somehow managed to get subbed out of the game before getting a card.
A couple minutes after the goal, Nana couldn’t handle the pain and had to get subbed out. Mohammed Saeid made his Rapids debut in the 32nd minute. I didn’t think Saeid did anything spectacular, but I thought he fit in nicely - hustling, intercepting balls, and connecting passes.
Besides the lack of fouls called on Mulholland in the first half, how did Chris Wingert not get a foul for throwing Dominique Badji into the boards? Thank goodness Badji was okay after a few minutes.
The Rapids went into the half up 1-0, despite just 37.5% possession. RSL’s best chance was a shot by Yura Movsisyan that went straight to MacMath.
The Burgundy Boys had a decent start to the second half, but it became a little disjointed, and no one appeared to be talking to each other (like when Saeid had the ball and an RSL player just came up behind him and took it). The ref missed two handballs that should have been called against RSL, one of which was around the 50th minute and was definitely in the 18-yard box. However, it could have been considered a “natural position” as his arm was in the air as part of his kicking follow-through. The second handball was just a couple minutes later.
Hairston had a great 1-on-1 chance against Rimando in the 62nd minute but it went inches wide of the far post. Joshua Gatt also made his Rapids debut when he subbed in for Hairston at the 80th minute. Almost immediately, Gatt dribbled down the field, was pulled down in the box by Wingert, and still got off a shot that went just wide.
In the 83rd minute, Mekeil Williams fouled Ricardo Velazco just outside the 18-yard box. There was a shot that bounced off the underside of the crossbar, and on the rebound, Jared Watts got caught with his arm in the air and got an intentional handball. He earned an immediate red card and was ejected, while RSL got a penalty kick.
MacMath read the shot and went the right way, but Movsisyan put it in the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Bobby Burling subbed in for Badji immediately after, but the Rapids were finishing the game with 10 men.
Just a couple minutes later, RSL marched down the field. Dillon Powers and Micheal Azira dropped the intensity just enough for Brooks Lennon to dribble to the top of the 18 and blasted a shot past MacMath.
And that’s how it ended. 2-1 RSL.
In the post-game press conference, Pablo Mastroeni was visibly upset. He mentioned the lack of finishing on 1v1 opportunities and that the team didn’t do “well enough with the chances we created.” He thought “we did enough tonight to win the game, we just weren’t clinical enough in front of goal and conceded two terrible goals.” At the end of the press conference he added, “I feel terrible.”