COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- The comeback kids did it again, as the Portland Timbers came up with another late goal to collect a result, using substitute Gaston Fernandez’s 76th-minute equalizer to nab a 2-2 draw at the slumping Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Fernandez coolly finished to collect the key point for Portland, pushing them within a point of the Vancouver Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West.
It looked like the Rapids would collect their first win since July, but another piece of poor defending late in the game cost Colorado the full share of the points. Still, the result snapped Colorado’s franchise-worst seven-game losing streak, allowing the Rapids to garner their first point since July 25th.
A chippy finale resulted in three second-half yellow cards, and both teams will rue a chance to further close on fifth-place Vancouver, who lost at Dallas 2-1 on Saturday.
On a cool and crisp evening in suburban Denver, the Rapids came out the clear aggressor, nearly going ahead in the eighth minute on center back Thomas Piermayr’s long-distance blast, but the Austrian’s shot just went wide of Donovan Ricketts’ goal.
But the Rapids’ best chance came a quarter hour later when Nick LaBrocca’s blast required a terrific one-handed stop from Ricketts, who narrowly parried the ball out of bounds.
A few minutes later, Fanendo Adi headed into the back of the net, but he was ruled offside after Liam Ridgewell’s initial win inside the box.
But finally, in the 43rd minute, the deadlock was broken. A slick pass from Adi went right to a streaking Diego Valeri, and the Argentine blasted home off of rookie goalie John Berner’s hands and into the back of the net. The goal was the eighth of the season for Valeri and gave the Timbers the 1-0 halftime advantage.
But the advantage didn’t last long. Less than two minutes into the second half, Ridgewell was whistled for a controversial hand ball as the Englishman attempted to block Brown’s shot. Replays appeared to show the ball went off of Ridgewell’s chest, but referee Drew Fischer pointed to the spot regardless, and Rapids captain Dillon Powers finished cleanly from the box for the 48th-minute equalizer.
A few minutes later, the Rapids almost took the lead, but Brown’s one-on-one opportunity was well-saved by his countryman Ricketts.
But in the 66th minute, Brown wouldn’t be denied again. Left back Marc Burch’s terrific cross into the box went straight onto Brown’s head, and the Jamaican pounced for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
The Timbers, however, weren’t finished. The substitute Fernandez took a terrific feed from fellow Argentine substitute Maximiliano Urruti and slotted home for his seventh goal of the season in the 76th minute, leveling the match at two apiece.
Ben Zemanski’s injury-time shot nearly gave the visitors the full share of the points, but Berner made a fingertip save to preserve the result.
The Rapids head to Salt Lake City for their final meeting of the season with archrival Real Salt Lake on Friday night, while the Timbers have a home Tuesday Champions League fixture against Honduran side Olimpia before returning to MLS action against the Whitecaps at PPL Park on Saturday.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Donovan Ricketts||Made several important saves to keep Portland in the game, and looked like the Ricketts of 2013|
|2||Deshorn Brown||Had a big miss in the first half, but persisted to grab a terrific goal to cap off a very strong second half performance|
|3||Diego Valeri||His goal was a thing of beauty, and he probably could have had a couple of assists if his teammates had been on form|