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Game Recap: Colorado Rapids 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 2

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Colorado played aggressive soccer and scored twice, but it wasn’t enough.

Sjoberg draws the game 1-1. Right place, right time for the center back.
John Babiak, @photog_johnb

Maybe it was an up tempo and well-played match Vancouver and Colorado. Maybe the match was a little scrappy and desperate between two teams that really, really needed a win. Either way, it ended in a 2-2 draw.

Colorado started out in a hole almost immediately, as Tony Tchani laid in a beautiful low shot from the left side of the box that pinged off the right post for a 1-0 lead in just the 5th minute. The ball had skipped to him after left back Jordan Harvey sent in a cross that Mike Da Fonte cleared. Except that the clearance landed right to Tchani.

Colorado pressed hard for the next ten minutes for the equalizer. Dom Badji had a shot on a great drive just two minutes after the Vancouver goal. Colorado would keep pressing non-stop for the next ten minutes. They broke through on a weird little play: a set piece from Shkelzen Gashi popped out to Michael Azira, who swung it back into the mixer. Mike DaFonte got a piece of it, and it fell at the feet of Axel Sjoberg. The big Swede scored from 8 yards out to equalize.

He did it through a steady drizzle, which started just after Vancouver’s goal and persisted through the end of the first half. From my seat in section 117, it hardly dampened the spirits of the fans, who turned out in pretty good numbers. The announced attendance was 15,625 fans. I imagine on an August night, they were expecting it to be a little warmer and drier, though.

Vancouver put the pressure on through the end of the half. MLS newcomer Yordy Reyna had a gorgeous turn in the box, but pulled his shot high in the 42nd. Then a play at the Rapids end at minute 44 was quickly turned around by for Vancouver counter-attack. The Caps had a four-on-two rush, but Freddy Montero shanked it with the outside of his boot about 10 yards wide right.

The second half was drier in terms of weather, but the spigot of goals was not closed for either team. Colorado got a goal in the 53rd off a similar play to Vancouver’s goal - a packed set piece that was followed by a quick Rapids counter. Gashi slid in on a 50-50 to get control of the ball, and bounced it out to Kevin Doyle. Doyle booted a nice ball upfield to Mohammed Saeid, who dribbled 30 yards and brought the ball square in front of goal for his shot, right outside the 18 yard box. Sheanon Williams got in front of it, but his block bounced off him, back off Mo, and across to Marlon Hairston. Marly was facing the wrong way to take a shot, and instead stuck out his heel in a perfect reaction move. The back-heel stab came back to Kevin Doyle, who hammered it home for his 5th goal of the season, and the Rapids had a 2-1 lead.

Gashi’s sliding clearance starts the counter that turned into the Rapids second goal. (Fun game: find the ball!)
John Babiak, @photog_johnb

Vancouver went to their bench, throwing on blazing-fast MC Hammer pants connoisseur Brek Shea and mighty mite Cristian Techera. Colorado countered by bunkering in in two stolid rows of four, and shortly after, pulling off Gashi for Joshua Gatt.

There was no denying Vancouver in the end, though.

On a Whitecaps attack, Marlon Hairston got a call for a foul on Matias Laba that went for a yellow card, but might reasonably have been called as worse. On the ensuing free kick, 5’ 2” Cristian Techera launched a 40 yard pass into the box. Freddy Montero lept, connected perfectly with his head, and buried it. A few sloppy late rushes from the Rapids resulted in nothing, and the game finished 2-2.

Vancouver earned an important road point, running their road record to 4-2-5 (WTL). The Rapids, meanwhile, dropped a virtual must-win game at home before going on the road next week against FC Dallas in a game that will be exceedingly hard to win.

So things look pretty bleak for the Rapids. Hey, it was a fun game, the C38 tailgate was fun as always, and I got to hang with The Soccer Tour’s Steve Bernesconi on his cross-country tour of US soccer life. For an unsatisfying result, I was still mildly satisfied. However if you, dear Rapids fan, are not, I fully and completely understand.