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#PORvCOL: Breaking Down the Key Plays

The Rapids managed to battle back twice to save a point in Portland.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids faced off against the Portland Timbers for the second time this season last Saturday night. While it wasn’t as wild and snowy as the first time around, it was still an exciting game in which the Rapids fought back from a goal down twice to earn a 2-2 draw. Let’s take a look at the goals.

27’: The Rapids score...on themselves (1-0)

We don’t need to watch this one (but if you really want to, click here). The Timbers were given the opportunity on the corner kick. As the ball came into the box, Tommy Smith tried to do anything he could to get a head on the ball. Sadly, he is forced to stretch back toward his goal and is unable to steer it any other direction except the back of the net. Smith hasn’t had his best year and this certainly isn’t going to help him feel any better.

28’: The Rapids respond almost instantly (1-1)

Right off the kickoff, the Rapids were determined to get themselves back in the game. The first key part of this play comes from Cole Bassett and Kei Kamara. As soon as Bassett gets the ball, Kamara starts to take off down the line. This allows him to get up to speed and gives Kamara the head start on his defender needed to get to the perfectly weighted ball from Bassett.

Kamara then manages to play the ball into a dangerous area off his first touch, which forces the mistake by Portland. A Portland defender cuts in front of another and only manages to flick the ball on to Jonathan Lewis. Had he noticed that there were no oncoming burgundy players in that area, he could have let the second defender get off a good clearance.

Nonetheless, Lewis is able to bring down the flicked-on ball, have a touch, and place the ball right into the side netting before the Timbers Army could even see through their celebratory smoke bombs.

63’: Timbers retake the lead (2-1)

After a straight red card, momentum had just started to shift the Rapids way when they got called for a handball inside the box. As a result, Diego Valeri had the chance to hit the solid PK you can see above, meaning the Rapids would have to battle back again.

76’: We see you Sam Nicholson (2-2)

With the Timbers down to 10 men, Sam Nicholson was able to find space up and down the sideline all night. On this particular play, he does a good job to make the run early, and Danny Wilson hits a good ball into space. Nicholson gets to the ball and faces up his defender.

With the speed and ability that Nicholson had, not many defenders would feel great about being faced up one-on-one without any support, and this is no exception. Nicholson uses that speed and ability to create a little space and get to the top of the box.

At that point, he decides to take a crack at goal, and wow! The ball flies into the top corner in such a surprising way that nobody moved. As someone who was at the game, it was hard to tell if the goal had even counted at first because the Timber players were so frozen by the spectacular play.

Other Thoughts

Speed Kills

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Rapids had Nicholson and Lewis available. While Andre Shinyashiki, Diego Rubio, and others had done decent jobs holding down the flanks, there is no denying the impact the two of them have. On top of scoring the two goals, their speed allowed them to get up and down the flanks and get the balls in dangerous positions. These two are certainly two of the most important players for the Rapids going forward in 2019.

The Outside Backs Have Turned the Corner

In the beginning of the season, teams were able to put a lot of pressure on the Rapids backline by beating the outside backs. Keegan Rosenberry was often caught too far up the field or found himself getting split between him and the center backs. On the other side, the revolving door at left back was bearing little fruit.

On Saturday, the Rosenberry and Sam Vines played very well. The two didn’t allow Portland dangerous attacking players to get in behind them, and as a result, Smith and Lalas Abubakar did not have to face too many crosses. The two also did a great job maintaining their organization despite a Portland frontline that was constantly switching sides and moving around. All in all, don’t forget to give the backline credit for only allowing two (relatively unearned) goals, and that started with the outside backs shutting down the flanks.

Gotta Finish the Chances

While it was nice to battle back twice and earn a draw in a tough environment like Portland, you can’t help but feel like the Rapids could have won this game. During the first half, the Rapids had so many chances they just weren’t able to put away. Kamara hit the post from range, and Timbers goalie Steve Clark was able to do this late in the first half:

Finally, the Rapids had a great chance in on goal in the second half in which Clark came up with another great point-blank save.

When it comes down to it, Clark had a great game and made a number of good saves, but the Rapids needed to find a way to score some of those chances. Had they gone into halftime up 2-1 who knows how this game could have gone.

The Rapids Kept Their Heads

Early in the second half, the game got a little edgy. Portland got a red card. The Rapids got a yellow card shortly after. The crowd was rowdy and loud. When it came down to it, however, the Rapids did a great job of keeping their heads, staying focused, and coming back from behind.

Any other thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section!