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Rapids catch no breaks in the Emerald City; lose to undermanned Sounders 2-1

Colorado misses a golden opportunity to move up in the standings

John Babiak

The Colorado Rapids came into their MLS week 22 face-off with Western Conference nemesis, the Seattle Sounders, with an array of objectives.

They ranged from building upon their recent small successes both in training sessions and on the pitch; winning their very first road game of the season, 100th as a club, to earning three crucial points and moving up the table, and so, within striking distance of the seventh playoff spot.

By the time the final whistle blew at the 97th minute, the Burgundy Boys had achieved none of the above. If anything, it is accurate to state that they were defrauded by preposterous refereeing, nor could they leverage a 11v10 advantage with 40-plus minutes to play.

The Rapids came into the showdown feeling

buoyant from going unbeaten in their past three games. To that end, they felt more than optimistic that they could grab at least one point because Seattle was in a free fall state- losing their last three matches.

Rapids' Jonathan Lewis expressed his feeling of confidence by scoring three minutes after the first whistle of the game sounded. The crafty winger took a pass from Diego Rubio in the box and scampered off at the goal. He pitter-pattered around the Sounders, always looming goalkeeper Stefan Frei, then finessed the ball over the goal line to put the Rapids up 1-0.

In May, Lewis was responsible for scoring the only goal of a Colorado victory over Seattle at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

Despite Lewis' goal, the Sounders' home crowd came alive and filled the sails of their starting eleven with dynamism. The Sounders attackers went after the Rapids defensive unit waves.

Spotty refereeing and calls that favored Seattle led to turnovers that enabled the Sounders duo of Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro to both to possess the ball and test the Rapids back four and keeper, Will Yarbrough.

The only relief the Rapids defensive unit received in the first half was when the fidgety Michael Barrios took it upon himself several times and penetrated into Seattle's 18-yard box. His attempts to score missed their marks. His one-person efforts, though, were admirable.

Before the half closed, Seattle got on the scoreboard during a sequence of jaw-dropping-head scratching events.

Near the middle of the field, Rapids defender Lalas Abubakar and Sounders midfielder Will Bruin sprinted to a long Seattle pass that came up the sideline. Abubakar and Bruin arrived simultaneously. Bruin went down, and the field official gave the Ghanaian grief throughout the match called a found on Abubakar.

Meanwhile, the deflected ball rolled some 20 yards from the spot of the foul. A flash reset allowed Cristian Roldan to free kick the ball quickly. He found Jimmy Medranda downfield, who found Morris, who chipped it past the outstretched arms of an oncoming Yarbrough.

Rapids head coach Robin Fraser was seething on the sideline, chewing out anyone, everyone wearing yellow. However, the event was un-reviewable and both teams went into their respective lockerrooms all knotted up.

The Rapids caught a whiff of good luck when Sounder, Kelyn Rowe, earned his second yellow card and an early exit from the match in the 47th minute. The veteran defender used poor judgment and delayed the game by tossing the ball over the sideline boards—advantage Rapids.

Colorado started to go after Seattle. Fraser even traded out defender Gustavo Vallecillar for Max Alves da Silva in hopes that a set of forward thinking players could improve his side's chances of finding the backing of the net and closing out the critical match on a high note.

As bad luck have it, the tide was turned when Morris worked his way in the box and took aim at Yarbrough. The keeper made a brilliant save; however, the ball played back to Morris, who followed his shot. Yarbrough made contact and sent Morris flying. The penalty whistle blew, and a penalty kick followed.

Old reliable Nicolas Lodeiro found the back of the net from the spot. The local crowd went supersonic, and the Rapids crashed in yet another away stadium.

Despite having a man advantage for nearly 50 minutes, the Rapids were out possessed 56% to 44% and only got off eight shots on goal, three of which were on target.

Postgame, Fraser carefully summed up his team's play after they went up a man with plenty of time ahead of them.

"Yeah, it's frustrating... And what a great start tonight. Great ball by Diego, great run, and finish by Jonny. Then to go from there to just not being willing to play quite enough is disappointing, very disappointing. To go up a man, that's a time when I really think you should be able to put teams under a ton of pressure if you're good with your spacing and you're passing, and I thought it was just wasn't what it needed to be tonight." He continued, "I'm going to keep saying this throughout this, so it doesn't sound like this is sour grapes or anything—really, full credit to Seattle. I thought they played extremely well. I thought they were extremely good, dangerous, and confident even down a man. So I thought they did a good job, and we weren't quite as good as we needed to be."