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Post Match: Vancouver rallies to draw away at Colorado

The Whitecaps conceded an early lead to the Rapids only to draw level late in Commerce City

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In a soggy, back-and-forth venture out to Commerce City, the Vancouver Whitecaps battled back to net a 2-2 draw against the Colorado Rapids.

After gaining an early lead from a Tony Tchani tally from distance, the ‘Caps overcame their own deficit, following goals from Axel Sjoberg and Kevin Doyle, once Fredy Montero was able to equalize late in the match.

Starting XI: Ousted; Williams, Jacobson, Parker (C), Harvey; Laba, Tchani; Ibini, Reyna, Bolanos; Montero.

Following last week’s upending of then-Western Conference leaders FC Dallas, Carl Robinson made a few changes to his starting lineup, with this week’s inclusion of Andrew Jacobson, Jordan Harvey, and Christian Bolanos for Kendall Waston, Marcel de Jong, and Brek Shea, respectively.

Although Marlon Hairston made the first true challenge on net, with a shot dragged just wide of the far post following a slick back heel from Dominique Badji, it would be Tony Tchani and the Whitecaps who struck first:

Though the Rapids were able to clear the cross from Harvey, Tchani stepped up to drive home a wormburner through roughly 10 players before Tim Howard watching the ball carom off the post and in.

Though it appeared that the Whitecaps’ fortunes from Dallas traveled with the team to Commerce City, the perseverance of the Rapids paid off only ten minutes later.

Following the back and forth of a Badji header turned wide and a Whitecaps reply ending with a Bolanos shot being blocked from eight yards out, it was Rapids centerback Axel Sjoberg who equalized for the home side:

Off a Shkelzen Gashi free kick, for a foul where Sheanon Williams arguably could have picked up a yellow card, a poor Whitecaps clearance had Mohammed Saeid knocking the ball back into the penalty area, off Williams’ head, and onto the foot of Sjoberg, who slotted under Ousted with ease.

Despite the rapid pace, the first half settled into a pattern of Colorado holding the ball patiently for periods of time, while Vancouver’s defense held strong, earning the opportunity for a proper counterattack whenever the opportunity presented itself:

But on plays such as Ibini’s cross or Bolanos’ free kick, the Rapids back line remained resolute, and shortly forced Ousted into his first save of the match.

Following a bizarre offside call on Ibini when he occupied space on the opposite side of the pitch, and summarily analyzed on Twitter for its lack of sense by our own CWilkins...

...the Rapids quickly countered, with Kevin Doyle blasting a shot on net, forcing Ousted to parry the ball into the path of Williams, who quickly cleared for a throw-in:

The first half resumed its Colorado possession/Vancouver counter trends, with the Whitecaps arguably earning the more significant attempts on net, with some coming close, and others, well, less so. Regarding the latter attempt from Montero, this tweet succinctly addresses the forward’s decision making at the time:

That was a 4 on 3! At least whip it across the box from that angle! It’s plays like this where you can’t help but cringe in thinking about the opportunity lost, and the Rapids nearly made the Whitecaps pay at the onset of the second half:

Off a foul earned roughly ten seconds into the second half, Gashi lashed a free kick into the Whitecaps’ penalty area, only for Doyle’s glancing header to be blocked off the goal line by a sprawling Ousted. That’s “Save Of The Week” material right there!

It was only thirty seconds later, however, when the match could have turned in favour of the Whitecaps, with Micheal Azira clipping Bolanos after the Costa Rican midfielder had already released the ball. With Azira already having picked up a yellow card late in the first half, referee Nima Saghafi instead offers leniency and simply awards a free kick to the Whitecaps.

Why is this even worth mentioning? Because Colorado scored roughly seven minutes later, that’s why:

I get that there’s no correlation between two events just because one happened after the other, but I’m thinking that the likelihood of that lead-taking goal netted by Kevin Doyle is less likely to happen if Azira picks up his second yellow card. In all fairness, Hairston made a slick backheel into the path of the onrushing Doyle (or Gashi; either one could have buried while tripping over the another).

But how unfortunate would it have been for the Whitecaps to lose to the irony of a counterattack goal that benefited from a horrid pass from Saeid into the back of Williams, ricocheted back into Saeid, only for the ball to fall into the path of Hairston’s heel?

Thankfully, Fredy Montero did away with that concern with less than fifteen minutes left in the match.

Cristian Techera and Brek Shea saw their inclusion into the match, for Ibini and Bolanos, respectively, slightly more than ten minutes after Doyle’s breakthrough, and immediately heightened the push for a Whitecaps equalizer.

After a goal from Shea was called back for offside, Montero nearly turned in a Techera cross, having the ball ricochet off the post and the player, for an unfortunate goal kick.

And yet, the Techera-Montero combo was not to be denied on this night:

After Matias Laba made a fantastic tackle on Hairston, and promptly drew a retaliatory foul & yellow card from the Rapids’ midfielder, Techera stepped up to whip in a long free kick, placing the ball onto the head of an unmarked Montero.

The Whitecaps had one final chance to steal a win from Commerce City, but a late, one-timed shot from Techera off a back heel from Reyna (seriously, why so many back heels tonight???) was turned away by Mike da Fonte.

Instead, the Whitecaps will have to settle for a single road point this evening. In spite of the lack of pattern to understand and recognize following their last three matches, a loss at home to snakebit Portland side, the away demolition at first-place Dallas, and now a draw at last-place Colorado, you can never argue against a road result in the MLS.