Lowly Rapids snatch late tie with Toronto FC

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - NEIL DAVID­SON

Ar­mando Cooper sat dis­con­so­lately at his locker af­ter Toronto FC’s 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids on Satur­day night, hand on his head as he stared down at his phone.

Vet­eran de­fender Drew Moor gave him a pat as he went by. Act­ing coach Robin Fraser did the same. Cooper didn’t re­spond ei­ther time.

The Pana­ma­nian mid­fielder was no doubt re­liv­ing the 76th-minute give­away that led to a Do­minique Badji goal and the Rapids’ first point on the road this Ma­jor League Soc­cer sea­son as Colorado snatched a draw from the jaws of de­feat.

Cooper, who had come on three min­utes ear­lier when Jay Chap­man hob­bled off, at­tempted a pass that bounced off a Colorado player to Alan Gor­don. One pass later, Badji held off de­fender Chris Mavinga and beat goal­keeper Clint Ir­win low to the cor­ner with a left-footed shot.

Cooper, who has had an up-and­down sea­son in 2017, may have been the last TFC player to touch the ball on the goal but his team­mates had their chances to put the game away af­ter Chap­man gave Toronto a 1-0 lead just five min­utes into the game with his first ever MLS score.

Fraser ac­knowl­edged that turnovers are mo­men­tum killers. But he re­fused to point the fin­ger.

“Ev­ery­body has give­aways, ev­ery­body has bad mo­ments,” said Fraser. “Ev­ery­body has things that lead to goals. It’s not like that mo­ment de­fines them.”

“It was just not us at our best,” he said of the Toronto show­ing.

Fraser ran the side­line in the ab­sence of Greg Van­ney, who was serv­ing a one-game ban af­ter be­ing ejected mid­week in New York.

With third-place New York City FC de­feat­ing sec­ond-place Chicago 2-1 ear­lier in the day, Toronto (11-3-7) missed an op­por­tu­nity to pad its lead to four points atop the East­ern Con­fer­ence. TFC, which now leads the Fire by two points, hosts NYCFC next Sun­day.

On the plus side, Toronto re­mains un­beaten at BMO Field this sea­son (7-0-3). Colorado (6-11-2) im­proved to 0-7-1 on the road this sea­son thanks to just its third away goal of 2017.

“We knew it was go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult place to play,” said Colorado coach Pablo Mas­troeni, whose team had not played since July 4. “I just thought that the re­sponse in the sec­ond half was fan­tas­tic, af­ter a bit of a slug­gish first half and get­ting our feet in there with a cou­ple weeks of not play­ing.”

The of­fen­sively-chal­lenged Rapids had done lit­tle to threaten Toronto prior to Badji’s goal be­fore a loud crowd of 28,060.

Toronto out­shot Colorado 15-9 but, like the Rapids, only man­aged to put four on tar­get.

“There were a cou­ple of chances we didn’t take ad­van­tage of but I don’t think we cre­ated enough chances,” said Toronto de­fender Eriq Zavaleta. “And then we fell asleep with a turnover.”

Fans booed loudly as one Colorado player af­ter an­other went down in­jured af­ter the ty­ing goal, lead­ing to five min­utes of tense in­jury time.

NATHAN DENETTE, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Colorado Rapids de­fender Kortne Ford, left, and FC for­ward Se­bas­tian Giovinco bat­tle for the ball dur­ing sec­ond-half Ma­jor League Soc­cer ac­tion in Toronto on Satur­day. The teams played to a 1-1 draw.

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