It was seven years ago Friday that Caleb Folan’s best friend in England passed away from an asthma attack. Saturday, Folan honored him with a goal that helped the Colorado Rapids clinch a third-straight win and their first on the road against San Jose since 2003.
Folan visibly tapped a black armband he was wearing in his friend’s honor after he had converted a 39th minute penalty which saw the Rapids equalize San Jose’s opening goal from Joey Gjertsen. Jeff Larentowicz later clinched the Rapids victory in the 72nd minute, getting the capper for the 2-1 scoreline.
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“I’ve scored almost every year for him [at this time]. It’s kind of surreal, and my thoughts were with him tonight,” Folan told MLSsoccer.com. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, and it was a battle, but thankfully we got the win.”
Folan started the game in place of the attacking duo of the moment, Sanna Nyassi and Omar Cummings. Nyassi did not make the trip to California after a long flight back from West Africa where he was playing for The Gambia midweek, while Cummings entered the game only at the hour mark after his trip to China with Jamaica. Folan plowed a lone furrow in the Rapids’ 4-5-1.
The big striker, who missed last week’s game because of a groin problem, had a few good chances in the first half, hitting the post with a powerful header in the seventh minute and chasing a long ball down and almost getting a penalty awarded in the 17th minute. A great through-ball later in the half from Wells Thompson presented another chance for Folan, but he was thwarted by an onrushing Jon Busch in the San Jose goal.
“There were a few chances and I was frustrated that I couldn’t quite get on the end of them and that the calls didn’t go my way,” Folan said, specifically citing one breakaway where he was corralled by Quakes defender Bobby Burling. “I felt that was a penalty.”
The Rapids would eventually win a penalty kick which was awarded after Sam Cronin, later dismissed early in the second half, handled the ball from a Pablo Mastroeni cross. Rapids head coach Gary Smith said going into the half level was the very least his team - and Folan - deserved.
“I thought Caleb’s first 45 minutes were as effective as I have seen him – he was very bright,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “He was a bloody handful. His link-up play was very good and his passing was crisp. All in all, it was a very good 45 from him.”
The game also marked the first MLS appearance by Macoumba Kandji since MLS Cup back in November 2010 when he tore a ligament on the game-winning play. The forward came on in the 83rd minute in place of Folan.
“I’ve got to know him very well and I was very proud to see him back – I gave him a big hug,” Folan said of Kandji. “It’s great he is back in the mix.”
The Rapids return to Colorado for a busy week featuring a midweek CONCACAF Champions League game followed by a league game at home against Chivas USA next Saturday.