COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Andre Akpan’s first ever MLS league goal proved enough for the Colorado Rapids to break their three-game losing streak but it was only sufficient to give the defending MLS Cup champions a 1-1 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park against the visiting Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead just before halftime when Marco Pappa converted a Dominic Oduro cross to score his third goal of the season.
Akpan, in his second year in the league, equalized four minutes after the break with a fierce shot from a tough angle after he latched onto a perfect through ball from strike partner Omar Cummings.
The Rapids enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the opening 45 minutes but they could not create many chances. Their best looks came on long range efforts by Jeff Larentowicz and Cummings around the half hour mark.
At the same time as the Rapids enjoyed such superiority of possession, Chicago looked consistently dangerous on the counter with Pappa joining the forward line of Gaston Puerari and Diego Chaves in pressing forward effectively.
Two minutes before halftime, Puerari launched Oduro down the right flank and the Ghanaian beat left back Anthony Wallace before crossing hard into the penalty box. Pappa made the near post run and slid to beat Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens after the ball eluded diving defender Tyrone Marshall.
The Rapids response came minutes after the restart as a wide-open Akpan collected a through ball from Cummings down the right side of the penalty area. The Harvard graduate lined up a shot and rifled it through the hands of Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway and into the far left corner. The goal was Colorado’s first in the last 319 minutes.
The home team nearly claimed the winner when center back Drew Moor missed an open header right at the end of regulation from a Jamie Smith corner.
Akpan, who was making his first ever start in a league match, started up top with Cummings because of Caleb Folan’s absence through a quad strain. The club's other strikers, Quincy Amarikwa and Conor Casey, were also out due to injury.
The Fire, who were missing captain Logan Pause and starting defender Cory Gibbs to injury, gave Corben Bone and Daniel Paladini their first starts of the season. Central defender Josip Mikulic was forced to leave the match with a first-half injury and was replaced by Dasan Robinson.
The Rapids next face three straight road games in a 10-day period starting in Houston on Wednesday, May 4. They also face New England and D.C. United away. Chicago Fire return to Toyota Park to host the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 7.
CHI -- Marco Pappa 3 (Dominic Oduro 2, Gaston Puerari 2) 43
COL -- Andre Akpan 1 (Omar Cummings 1) 50
Chicago Fire -- Jon Conway, Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Josip Mikulic (Dasan Robinson 37), Gonzalo Segares, Dan Paladini, Corben Bone (Orr Barouch 74), Dominic Oduro, Marco Pappa, Gaston Puerari (Patrick Nyarko 89), Diego Chaves.
Substitutes Not Used: Baggio Husidic, Pari Pantazopoulos, Bratislav Ristic, Sean Johnson.
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace, Sanna Nyassi (Ross LaBauex 89), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Jamie Smith, Andre Akpan, Omar Cummings.
Substitutes Not Used: Danny Earls, Mike Holody, Josh Janniere, Joseph Nane, Scott Palguta, Steward Ceus.
COL -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Reckless Foul) 26
COL -- Drew Moor (caution; Reckless Foul) 49+
CHI -- Gonzalo Segares (caution; Reckless Foul) 49
CHI -- Dan Paladini (caution; Reckless Foul) 56
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli, Darren Clark
Fourth Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 46 degrees