COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It's been a recurring theme for the Colorado Rapids this season: a single, costly moment proves to be the deciding factor in a game in which the Rapids need all three points.
Steve Birnbaum’s equalizer in the 87th minute for visiting D.C. United proved to be the latest in these series of episodes as Colorado settled for a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
“We just didn’t handle that situation right,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said of the late goal by United. “It was a silly foul that we committed there and we turned our back on the play. It’s a game that’s unforgiveable. You’ve got to be tuned in, it doesn’t give you breaks.”
The lone point was a disappointing result for Colorado, after they led the game in nearly every metric including shots, shots on target, and possession.
“It is frustrating,” Mastroeni explained. “For the better part of that game, we were fantastic. We controlled every aspect of it. Bobby Burling and Sean St. Ledger were fantastic back there [in central defense]. They held everything in front of them together; it was just that one play.”
It was one of the better outings of the season for Burling, who also contributed offensively, scoring the game’s opening goal in the 28th minute.
“I think [Burling’s] play speaks for itself,” Mastroeni said. “He’s a guy that came out on two days’ rest, playing on turf. He gave both of the [D.C. United] guys up top a run for their money. To have that kind of defensive performance and contribute on the score sheet was fantastic.”
“That’s just something that happens on set pieces, a chance at a second ball. I think it was Maynor [Figueroa] who did a good job of contesting the first header. I was just fortunate – right place, right time – to be able to get something behind it, off the post and in. It was a little lucky,” Burling said of the goal.
And while the draw was yet another blow to Colorado’s dwindling hopes to qualify for the postseason, Mastroeni remained steadfast in his team’s aspirations for the remainder of the regular season.
“We want to win every game. We prepare to win every game,” he said. “These guys never make excuses. But those little nuances, those all happen in the flow of the game. But for that one play, I thought we did a very good job.”
Marco Cummings covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.