Rapids draw vs. expansion Loons
Minnesota gets first MLS point in Colorado
COMMERCE CITY» Four goals. A penalty kick. A straight red card. The 14,013 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park were treated to just about everything Saturday night in a wild 2-2 draw with Minnesota United FC.
Everything but a Rapids win. Colorado (11-1) played up a man for the final 20 minutes, but could not find a late winner, and the expansion Minnesota club (0-2-1) earned the first point in its MLS history.
“We were playing against a team that was rallying around something bigger than three points,” Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni said.
The Rapids got an early goal from Dominique Badji, and after conceding twice to open the second half, got an equalizer from Marlon Hairston to extend their home unbeaten streak to 19 consecutive league games.
Colorado’s best chance to grab a late winner came in the 86th minute when Dillon Serna sent a free kick from the top of the penalty area just over the bar.
After taking a 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Rapids found themselves down 2-1 in the 58th minute after Christian Ramirez gave the Loons the first lead of their MLS history. He beat Rapids defender Jared Watts to the near post to head a Jerome Thiesson cross past Tim Howard.
The lead didn’t last long. A minute later, Rapids fullback Marc Burch served in a perfect cross to the far post to find Hairston, who headed home the equalizer.
Hairston’s night was over 11 minutes later when Loons defender Justin Davis got his cleats into Hairston’s leg. Davis was shown a straight red card and Hairston was subbed off for Alan Gordon.
After dominating possession in the first half, Colorado gave Minnesota a second life three minutes into the second half when defender Mekeil Williams, starting in place of an injured Eric Miller (hamstring), fouled Collen Warner in the penalty area. Minnesota’s Kevin Molino converted the penalty kick for his second goal of the season to tie the match 1-1.
Minnesota coach Adrian Heath made two changes on his back line a week after conceding six goals to Atlanta, sitting his captain Vadim Demidov and fullback Jermaine Taylor in favor of Brent Kallman and Davis, respectively.
However, 17 minutes in his new back line let him down again, as a poor giveaway in the back led to the Rapids’ first goal.
Badji came streaking into the center, collecting a poor backpass and slotting it home past Loons’ goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth for his second goal of the season.
“We were just practicing all week to high press. Every time the ball goes back, we press,” Badji said. “And we just did the right thing, and the ball fell to my feet and I just scored it.”
Colorado Rapids forward Dominique Badji and Minnesota United defender Brent Kallman go after the ball during the first half Saturday night. Andy Cross, The Denver Post