The Colorado Rapids almost made it a perfect seven for seven for MLS clubs in CONCACAF Champions League group-stage play, but had to be content with a 1-1 tie at Real España in Honduras after the home side pinched a late equalizer on Tuesday night.
Julio Rodríguez volleyed in a spectacular shot in the 88th minute after Kosuke Kimura failed to clear with a header. The Uruguayan’s goal answered a first-half from Jeff Larentowicz for the Rapids.
Larentowicz, Colorado's captain on the night, had given his team a 1-0 lead in first-half stoppage time against the run of play. The midfielder took a pass from Ross LaBauex just outside the penalty area and hit a first-time right-footed shot clinically into the corner of the net to silence the home fans.
Predictably, the home side ratcheted up the pressure in the second half, creating a slew of chances. Allan Lalín went closest with a header in the 54th minute, slamming it off the bar after Colorado 'keeper Steward Ceus came off his goal line to try and clear.
Conversely, the Rapids were largely reduced to long range shots in the second half as they struggled to make any opportunities under the relentless Real España pressure. Omar Cummings shot with his left from well outside the penalty area in the 65th minute and Larentowicz shot from similar distance four minutes later, but both sailed harmlessly over. Larentowicz had a better opportunity in the 78th minute after a nice interchange with Wells Thompson but dragged his shot wide.
Rapids head coach Gary Smith rested a number of regulars, not least in an inexperienced back line which included Mike Holody and Danny Earls as well as back-up goalkeeper Ceus. Kimura was the only member of the starting back four that has started regularly in MLS this year.
Ceus, who was suffering from cramp for much of the second half, pulled off a number of big saves during the game, including one in second-half stoppage time when Jairo Puerto saw his shot saved by the Haitian international. Ceus also had a huge save in the 37th minute when he stoned Lalín after the forward was through on goal. Real España also went close when Edder Delgado hit the bar with a long-range shot in the 43rd minute, and Earls cleared off the line in the 62nd minute.
The Rapids now have four points from their two CCL games. They return home Wednesday before another road trip to play Chicago in league play on Saturday.
COL -- Jeff Larentowicz (Ross LaBauex) 45
RES -- Julio Rodriguez (unassisted) 86
COL -- Michael Holody (caution; Foul) 30
RES -- Julio Rodriguez (caution; Dissent) 79
Real España -- Kevin Hernandez; Sergio Bica (Hilder Colon, 45), Johnny Calderon (Carlos Pavon, 67), Maynor Martinez, Daniel Tejeda; Julio Rodriguez, Mario Morales, Edder Delgado, Alfredo Mejia, Christian Martinez (Jairo Puerto, 45), Allan Lalin
Substitutes Not Used -- Marcelo Macias, Henry Acosta, Ever Alvarado, Gerson Daniel Rodas
Colorado Rapids -- Steward Ceus; Kosuke Kimura, Danny Earls, Michael Holody, Scott Palguta (Drew Moor 69); Joseph Nane, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Ross Labauex (Sanna Nyassi 80), Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 71), Andre Akpan
Substitutes Not Used -- Tyrone Marshall, Chris Sharpe, Caleb Folan, Macumba Kandji