VANCOUVER, B.C. – José Mari scored late, long-range goals with each foot, including a spectacular strike with his left, to give the Colorado Rapids a 2-1 win on the road against a Vancouver Whitecaps squad reduced to 10 men by a controversial second-half red card to Matias Laba.
With Vancouver leading 1-0, José Mari leveled the game at one apiece in the 79th minute, using the outside of his left foot to bend an effort past David Ousted from outside the penalty area. Two minutes later, he fired the Rapids into the lead with a right-footed effort teed up by teammate Nathan Sturgis, a play on which Ousted appeared to be screened.
The sending off of Laba in the 77th minute was the key moment in the game, as the Rapids looked fairly toothless before the Argentine's dismissal. Having already booked Laba in the 54th minute, referee Ionnis Stavridis issued Laba his second yellow, this time for grabbing the ball with his hand when he thought he had been fouled. Stavridis then appeared to hesitate, perhaps forgetting the player's initial caution, before several Rapids players did the courtesy of reminding him.
Darren Mattocks had given Vancouver a deserved lead when he scored on 66 minutes, opening his 2014 account on a breakaway after Kenny Miller held up the ball before sending him in alone with a flicked pass.
In addition to the red card, Vancouver will also look back with frustration on a miss from the influential Pedro Morales in the 68th minute, as the Chilean failed to beat Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who was making his first appearance of the season, from about six yards out. On the play, Mattocks burst forward on a counter-attack before laying the ball into the path of the Designated Player.
Vancouver had other chances, too. The Whitecaps thought they had opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Mattocks poked home the rebound of a Morales shot from outside the area, but the play was correctly ruled offside. Colorado's best early chance came on 30 minutes when Deshorn Brown narrowly missed to the right of target with a low effort that eluded Ousted before going out harmlessly for a goal kick. Gabriel Torres set the play up with a well-weighted ball over the Vancouver back line.
Irwin also came up big for the Rapids in the 36th minute, stepping out to deny Mattocks after the Jamaican was sent through alone on the left by a penetrating Morales through ball. Vancouver had a penalty shout in the 39th minute, as Irwin appeared to make contact with Miller near the end line, but referee Stavridis adjudged there was no foul on the play.
The Whitecaps, now 1-1-2, are on the road next weekend against the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on Saturday. The Rapids, rising to 2-1-1, play away again next weekend, as they travel to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||José Mari||When you score not one, but two candidates for AT&T MLS Goal of the Week, you deserve high praise.|
|2||Darren Mattocks||Dangerous all season, dangerous all night, he finally got his goal in the second half.|
|3||Clint Irwin||Active first half in his first action of the season, then calmly handled stoppage-time set pieces.|