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Moor salvages tie (again)

September 24, 2011 | 9:05 pm 4
By Shaun Schafer

Teams earn a share of the points in a tie, but rarely do they toil for it like the Colorado Rapids did on Saturday night.

The record book will show that Chris Wondolowski scored an unassisted goal for San Jose in the 18th minute, and Drew Moor delivered an unassisted equalizer in the 71st. What the stats line will fail to show is the frenzy and oddity on display at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The result pushed the defending MLS Cup Champions to 10-9-12, 42 points, and closer to clinching a playoff spot. It left the Earthquakes at 6-11-13, 31 points, and on the outside of the MLS playoffs.

Perhaps the result is all that mattered, because what went on for 90 minutes was so off-kilter. Forwards pouted. Yellow cards flew. Offsides mounted. Veterans returned. Combined, it added up to a tense evening where it was tough to tell much about either side.

Colorado came out with the accelerator jammed to the floor. Omar Cummings nearly delivered a strike before 25 seconds had run off the clock. Finally, when the Rapids looked their most dangerous, it was a rare gaffe from ‘keeper Matt Pickens that gifted the Earthquakes a goal. Pickens chested down a ball to a running Wondolowski, who obliged by scoring his 11th of the season.

All the control and a one-goal deficit put the Rapids on their heels for the rest of the half. The switch in sides brought new vigor to Colorado, but the team still seemed to miss at critical moments. In the first 60 minutes, the Rapids had more offsides (seven) than shots on goal (three by my count).

Still, tenacity was rewarded. Moor cleaned up the mess following a Sanna Nyassi corner kick to put the Rapids level. And it looked in the 85th and 89th minutes like Colorado might get a winner from the same set piece, but it was not to be, on a night where nothing seemed quite right.

Caleb Concerns: Forward Caleb Folan has been seeing few quality chances in recent weeks, and the frustration he has been wearing in his shoulders produced a caution in the second half. It also produced regular diatribes from Folan to his fellow attackers.

While it’s easy to side with Folan for not getting the service he wants, the Republic of Ireland striker also needs to put direct play back in the game. He was continually looking to flick by head, toe and heel during the night. Trying to out-”cute” defenders doesn’t consistently work.

His one true shot came on a header in the first minute of stoppage time that Jon Busch miraculously saved. The pain on Folan’s face said it all. Sometimes you have to take the ball yourself, turn and go for the goal of the foul. Conor Casey has demonstrated this many times. With a chance to shine in Casey’s absence, Folan hasn’t quite gotten the same result.

Comminges Communication: The quest for a left back does not appear to have ended with the acquisition of Miguel Comminges. Putting the Guadeloupe native on the left allowed Moor to have a stellar game at center back, but Comminges play did little to assuage fears.

Saturday, he looked like he was fighting to adjust to teammates and altitude. He timed his headers poorly, sent errant balls long, and left late in the match for Wells Thompson. Much of the rest of the time, Comminges looked like he was needing a translator to work with the rest of the squad.

Kandji Delivers: Macoumba Kandji came on for Cummings late in the second half. While he also suffered from some timing troubles, the tall striker had ‘Quakes defenders on their back foot. He forced Busch into a late save, set up Nyassi for what should have been a much better shot, and startled Pablo Mastroeni with a pass into the box that the captain could have turned into the winning goal. It was a revelatory match for the man who missed much of the year recovering from a torn ACL.

Dubious Title: With the tie, the 2011 Rapids broke the record for most ties in a season. The 2004 squad tied 11 times. Colorado has three games remaining. A couple more ties would ensure a playoff spot.

Veterans Back: Jamie Smith played 58 minutes in his first significant action since July. Kandji was also getting his first major minutes since November.

All Yellow: Folan, Moor, Simon Dawkins, Brad Ring and Steven Beitashour all picked up cautions during the night.

Next Up: A host of reserves will travel to El Salvador to play Isidro Metapan on Wednesday. They will return to join most of the regulars for an Oct. 1 home match with FC Dallas. The Texas side, who lost to Colorado in the MLS Cup Final, defeated the Rapids at Pizza Hut Park 3-0 in their first meeting this season.

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  • Dave Verbonitz said:

    FC Dallas has been hot and cold lately. Saturday will be a good time for the Rapids to solidify their playoff chances.

  • Shaun Schafer said:

    I agree. These are the make or break games, and Dallas looked poor against Houston.

  • Delbert Schafer said:

    I trust the Rapids will break out and begin chalking up wins in remaining season games.

  • Shaun Schafer said:

    They need to. They haven’t shown much life lately.

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