The Colorado Rapids started with the same lineup and formation as Saturday, and it was really exciting to see that Axel Sjoberg was on the bench. Perhaps we’ll see him start on Saturday?
Almost as soon as the game kicked off, Tim Howard misplayed the ball but luckily recovered it. The Rapids then gave Chicago two corner kicks in a row in the 5th and 6th minute. Colorado was kind of just sitting back and letting Chicago pass the ball around. The Fire was very patient, and their efforts paid off in the 15th minute. The Rapids gave them a little too much room, the center backs got pulled out of position, and Nemanja Nikolic snuck in between Jared Watts and Bobby Burling. Brandon Vincent crossed the ball in and Nikolic easily headed it past Tim Howard and into the back of the net to put his team up 1-0.
Shortly after, David Accam dribbled down the field and got a shot off that went just wide.
The Rapids were a little scattered after the goal and follow-up shot, but started to get it back together. The Burgundy Boys’ best chance in the half came in the 25th minute after a free kick. The original kick was blocked, but after a couple passes, the ball got back to Shkelzen Gashi who sent a wonderful ball in. Alan Gordon was just a couple steps too slow.
Things continued to get better for the Rapids, as they gave the Fire less space and made them do something with the ball, until about the 34th minute when Tim Howard had to stand on his head to keep the ball out of the net.
I did notice that, much like last week, the Rapids are continuously working on getting the ball up and moving the ball forward. There was some side-to-side passing, but everyone is looking ahead, not thinking about passing it back. There was the occasional back pass, but for the most part, the team focused on pushing up.
The ref was letting everything go, and missed at least two, potentially three, yellow cards in the first half that should have been called against us. Somehow the game didn’t seem to be getting too out of hand, and Chicago went into halftime up 1-0. By most metrics, the Fire dominated the first half. They had six shots (two on goal) to the Rapids one shot (none on goal). Chicago had seven corners, while the Rapids had none. As Marcelo Balboa said, the Rapids were playing safe and not taking the same chances as they did last week at home.
The second half kicked off, appropriately, with a foul. Around 57 minutes in Chicago linked up a couple “give-and-go”s, crossed a ball in the box past Tim Howard, and then no one stepped up to David Accam who popped it over Watts and Hairston. 2-0 Chicago.
Soon after, Joshua Gatt subbed in for Saeid and Sam Hamilton made his MLS debut, coming in for Dillon Powers.
The Rapids had a couple chances around the 70th minute - Badji put in a header that went straight to the goalkeeper and then Gashi crashed in on Lampson, who got their first.
But then a defender sent a long ball up to Bastian Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger passed it to Michael de Leeuw, who arguably had a high boot in Watts’ face, and then crossed it low and hard through the box. Hairston almost got to it but Nikolic put it in the back of the net. It would have likely been an own goal if Hairston had gotten to it. Chicago went up 3-0 in the 74th minute.
The Rapids didn’t give up, and Kevin Doyle (who subbed in for Badji in the 70th minute) had a chance when he crossed in a ball that bounced up and off a defender and hit Lampson in the face. That was the last decent chance that the Rapids had, and while the Burgundy Boys ended up with seven shots, three on goal, nothing went in.
This wasn’t supposed to be an easy game. Chicago is legit this year, and they’re hot right now (pun kind of intended), but this loss after last weekend’s win definitely stings.