In a great atmosphere with an animated crowd, the Colorado Rapids tried in every way possible to bring home the three points against Orland City SC. After a pesky first-half in which both teams played organized soccer with high-percentage passes and few real dangers created, the game picked up intensity in the last 45 minutes.
The second half is where the game caught on fire and the enthusiasm in the stands increased significantly. The peak of the game's excitement came shortly after the 65th minute when Kevin Doyle cleverly got space and was able to get by two defenders, the second of which knocked him down right on the edge of the penalty box.
The foul looked like a last man foul (by rule a direct red card), but Orlando central back David Mateos avoided ejection getting by with just a yellow. The buzz and noise in the stadium immediately after the foul was at a fever pitch and boos ensued once the color of the referee's card was only yellow.
"I don't know I don't have a good angle," said Pablo Mastroeni on whether or not the foul was a last man foul. "Every call looks like he should be sent off to me...so it was a strange play. I thought he [Doyle] was in on goal, I thought he had momentum with him, but they're [Refs] saying he wasn't the last man. I don't know the nuances of that rule and how far the next man has to be in order to say there are more people in that space so that it wasn't the last. In the end of the day, that's why they're refs and I'm not."
Though Orlando had more possession in the first half (roughly 57-percent), it was the Rapids who made themselves the more dangerous side in the first 45 minutes. While Colorado had its share of chances and outshot the visitors five to one in the first half, none of Colorado’s shots seemed to get through to goal, with several timely sliding tackles being performed by the defense.
In the second half, both sides came out more determined to get forward and create danger. Orlando began by getting forward but quickly the Rapids took hold of the game and possession, making themselves dangerous in front of goal but never quite breaking through for that elusive score.
Particularly down the left flank, the Rapids seemed unstoppable, with Marc Burch seemingly getting down the wing and into crossing position whenever he wanted. Crosses into the box never quite seemed on target in this contest. It was direct passing, forward runs into space and good combination play from the front four that created the most danger for Colorado.
Colorado found dangerous shots from Shkelzen Gashi, Marco Pappa, and Doyle from the edge of the box, all of which seemed to miss the goal just wide.
The biggest chance for the home team came right in the thick of Colorado’s aggressive period around the 60th minute. On a cross that passed through the entire penalty box, Gashi found himself open on the right corner of the penalty area and let rip a half shot half cross that Orlando midfielder Antonio Nocerino headed right into his own post, bouncing out.
Colorado had plenty of chances offensively, especially in the last 30 minutes. Orlando, on the other hand, struggled to keep possession as the game wore on. It’s focal players like Cyle Larin and Kaka were rarely seen on the ball. All in all, the visitors managed only one shot on target, an easy try that Tim Howard handled without issue.
The result will no doubt come as a disappointment to the Rapids, who had the chance to gain ground on the LA Galaxy after their loss earlier today. The home side must feel they deserved at least one goal in a match that became fairly lopsided when looking at chances created.
“We put ourselves in good positions to score goals we just weren’t able to take advantage of our chances,” summarized Mastroeni about his side's disappointing offensive outing.
A game that ended in boos for both a refereeing job that felt inadequate, an Orlando team that fell to the ground and wasted time every chance it could, and an unfair result, left the home crowd unhappy. Regardless, the Rapids are still in the hunt for first-place in the west but a win would have been the deserved result.