HARRISON, N.J. – In the final match of their three-game homestand, the New York Red Bulls welcomed Western Conference cellar dwellers Colorado Rapids, and a Bradley Wright-Phillips penalty kick cancelled out the opener from Gabriel Torres as the teams fought to a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday night.
The result means the Red Bulls' unbeaten start to the season remains intact through seven games, while the Rapids picked up their league-leading fifth tie.
After a slow start, chances for both sides came quickly as each team began to find their footing.
Sacha Kljestan had the game’s first real chance, collecting a pass intended for Mike Grella at the far post. With a tight angle at goal, the midfielder could only fire his shot directly at Rapids 'keeper Clint Irwin, who had little trouble with the strike.
Just two minutes later, Rapids forward Dominique Badji had perhaps the best chance of the first half. Some indecisive defending from New York allowed Badji a free run at goal, but his effort from the top of the area was parried away by New York goalkeeper Luis Robles in a one-on-one duel.
The Rapids would eventually draw first blood in the 25th minute off of a set piece from about 30 yards out. As Dillon Powers whipped in a teasing ball that the Red Bulls failed to clear, Torres latched onto the service, getting a slight flick on the effort past Robles to stun the home crowd.
It wouldn’t take long for the Red Bulls to muster a response, however, as last year’s Golden Boot winner got the opportunity to level the affair just five minutes later. Rapids fullback Ben Newnam, making his first career MLS appearance, wrestled Kljestan down in the area in the 30th minute, leading referee Mark Geiger to point to the spot. Wright-Phillips would step up to convert the penalty kick and even the match with his third goal of the year.
The Red Bulls came out in the second half as the clear aggressor and saw a flurry of chances go begging in the later stages of the match. Minutes after Sal Zizzo’s introduction into the match just past the hour mark, New York saw two chances to take the lead but failed to convert each time.
Kljestan’s curling, left-footed effort was destined for the upper 90, only to be kept out by the cross bar in the 64th minute. One minute later, Lloyd Sam found Felipe around the Colorado penalty spot, but the Brazilian put his shot just wide of the near post.
Wright-Phillips had a chance to earn a brace in the 79th minute after an incisive pass from Kljestan sent the Englishman in on goal. After rounding Irwin, Wright-Phillips couldn’t manage to put his effort into the empty net as his shot sailed high over the crossbar.
Both teams return to action on Saturday night as the Red Bulls head up I-95 to face the New England Revolution, while the Rapids will fly back across the country to take on the LA Galaxy in Carson.