COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — On Wednesday, the Colorado Rapids overwhelmed the New York Red Bulls for a 4-1 victory in a thrilling display of attacking soccer. On Saturday night, a penalty kick and a speculative long-range effort were matched by a penalty kick and a soft header from a set piece as 10-man New England tied the defending MLS Cup champions, 2-2.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
“Look at our goals, the game maybe ended where it should,” said Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni. “We had a PK and the ball jumped over the 'keeper’s head. The biggest problem was that we had an extra man and we didn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t press the game and make them suffer by really taking the game to them.”
New England defender Chris Tierney was sent off in the 63rd minute as he upended Sanna Nyassi in the penalty box after a nice interchange between the Gambian and second-half substitute Omar Cummings. Caleb Folan converted the resulting penalty to match Benny Feilhaber’s first-half header.
If the first goal was a big ho-hum, the second was anything but. Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura passed from inside his own half in the 82nd minute into the New England penalty box and Matt Reis, who had produced a great save from the same player in the opening minute of the game, allowed the ball to bounce over his head and into the net for the 2-1 Rapids lead.
It seemed that may have been enough for the Rapids to secure their third straight home victory until Scott Palguta fouled New England substitute Kenny Mansally at the death. Shalrie Joseph converted the New England penalty kick to tie the game in the 90th minute.
“It’s an unfortunate time to give up an equalizer for sure,” Palguta told MLSsoccer.com. “We always knew it was going to be a frustrating night. We were going to have to be patient and really work. It’s really disappointing to catch the break we needed with the second goal, which was very fortunate, and then give it right back.”
Rapids head coach Gary Smith said the game was significantly different from the New York game. RBNY came with a much more attacking lineup while New England aimed to play largely behind the ball.
“The game does that,” he said. “New York came here and probably felt they could beat us. It made for a more attacking lineup and so, therefore, gaps open up. The game becomes more open and more fluid. Tonight, it wasn’t. We were camped in their half for good periods but what they did have was a plan to protect an area around their goal and they did it well.”
The frustration came from somehow being able to break the deadlock through what Smith called a “freak” goal, and then proceeding to give the lead up.
“The disappointment and frustration is, with 10 men, they were very direct and we dealt with it poorly,” the Rapids coach said.
Mastroeni agreed it was very hard to break a defensive New England team down.
“They were two completely different games with two completely different dynamics,” he said of the past week. “We have to figure out a way to better break down a team sitting back.”
A frustrating night for the Rapids who must have felt they were going to nevertheless eke out an unlikely victory when man of the match Kimura’s effort sailed in.
“In the end, we gave them the opportunity,” Kimura said. “We cannot let them do that in the last five minutes.”