COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Another week, another controversial call.
And another positive result for the Colorado Rapids.
In the Rapids’ 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, two questionable (depending on who you ask) calls led to two penalty kicks, and yes, two goals for the home team, who were also the beneficiaries of a questionable PK decision in their 1-1 draw in last weekend's season opener against the New York Red Bulls.
“Dillon [Powers] played the ball over, like a 50-50 ball, and he came off the line, so I went at it,” said Rapids striker Deshorn Brown, who drew the first penalty on a 68th-minute collision. “I know I touched the ball a little bit, but I don’t know if he touched it either.”
Brown’s collision with Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, which resulted in the veteran goalie earning a red card, saw Brown and Ricketts attack Powers' bouncing ball in the penalty box, with Ricketts missing the ball and extending a leg that caught Brown in the thigh.
Brown said postgame his thigh was bleeding as a result of the collision, while Ricketts suffered what Timbers coach Caleb Porter described as a knee bruise from Brown’s leg in the same incident, requiring the Jamaican 'keeper to be carted off the field.
When asked about the first call postgame, referee Mark Geiger told a pool reporter that the penalty was clear in his eyes.
“Ricketts was sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity,” Geiger said. “The contact was made by Ricketts on the challenge, hence the penalty against Portland.”
The second flashpoint was a 74th-minute slide from Timbers backup 'keeper Andrew Weber, who replaced Ricketts, catching veteran midfielder Vicente Sanchez on the leg and sending the Uruguayan tumbling onto the snow-soaked turf. Weber argued the call, but to no avail.
Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni took the diplomatic approach when asked about the calls postgame, just as he did last week when asked about the PK drawn by Marvin Chavez in New York.
“If the referee calls it, whatever it is, it is,” Mastroeni said postgame. “I can’t override any calls. I can’t take them away. I don’t waste my energy commenting on refs. My focus is purely on what do we need to do as a team to continue on the path and what we need to do to improve every game.”
Regardless of the calls, the Rapids converted on both their spot kicks – though Brown needed a second bite of the cherry, cleaning up the rebound after Weber parried his initial effort – and they were happy to collect the first three points of the Mastroeni era.
“We played in difficult conditions,” Sanchez told MLSsoccer.com postgame. “I thought the team responded well. It was hard to play out there at time, it was tough with a fast field, but with some luck we’re happy to have collected three points here at home.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.