Colorado extended their undefeated streak to three games as the Rapids fought back from two deficits to secure a vital road draw against the L.A. Galaxy Tuesday night.
“I’m just incredibly proud of how the team has been working over the last five-six games,” manager Anthony Hudson said of the 2-2 result, “from start to finish really I think we were the better team, I think we controlled the game, so I’m pleased for the players because they needed that.”
Both sides started the first half fairly cautiously. The Rapids once again dominated possession throughout the game (as has surprisingly become the norm since Anthony Hudson’s decision to start using the 4-4-2-Diamond), patiently building up play and waiting for the right opportunities to capitalize. As a result, a frustrated Galaxy team was largely limited in their chances. Ola Kamara appeared to strike first for L.A. in the sixteenth minute, but before the Norwegian international could celebrate, Kevin Stott’s assistant referee flagged the effort offside.
Minutes later, Dillon Serna – applying his trade at the top of the diamond for his second match in a row – dribbled through four Galaxy defenders in the box before firing off a shot towards David Bingham’s near post. Bingham made the save and nothing came of the ensuing corner.
In the thirty-third minute, Kellyn Acosta spotted Edgar Castillo making a run inside L.A.’s six-yard box. Acosta delivered a fantastic pass but Castillo was brought down by Chris Pontius before he could take a shot. Stott ignored Colorado’s penalty shouts and play continued. Two minutes later, Pontius would cross the ball to Ola Kamara, whose header just fell short of crossing the goal line before Tim Howard made the save. Howard made three saves in total on the night, cementing a decent performance to coincide with his 150th career MLS match.
The largely uneventful first period was followed by an enthralling, back-and-forth, heart-pumping second half.
Sixty ticks into the second forty-five, play was stopped for Kellyn Acosta, who had to leave the game due to a sickness of some kind (the incident was recorded, but be warned, it was not pretty).
Following the match, Hudson revealed to Altitude 950 that “as soon as [Acosta] came back to the locker room he was fine.” While the team has yet to disclose the precise cause of Acosta’s ailment, it might be related to the illness contracted by both Yannick Boli and Danny Wilson earlier in the week.
Bismarck “Nana” Adjei-Boateng came on for Acosta and the Rapids’ dominance started to whither. While Boateng put up equal passing numbers as Acosta, it seemed Colorado were lacking the creativity required to move the ball up the pitch and into the Galaxy’s final third. Then – like clockwork – L.A. was able to capitalize on their first real opportunity of the second half when Pontius delivered a low pass to Ashley Cole on the edge of Colorado’s box. The left back turned his defender and was clinical in the ensuing one-on-one chance against Howard.
After Cole’s goal, Hudson brought on Niki Jackson for Sam Nicholson – a tactical change heavily derided by Galaxy television analysts Joe Tutino and Cobi Jones. Ten minutes later, L.A. defender Daniel Steres attempted to clear away a cross from Johan Blomberg, but the ball ultimately fell for Castillo. The Mexican-American charged at Dave Romney, utilized one of his oft-practiced feints, and sent a rocket past Bingham to level the score.
“I just got the ball, hit the ball, and I just looked and it went in,” Castillo said, chuckling in his post-match interview, “All the goals I have are good goals.”
Castillo had been a nuisance to the Galaxy on the left side of the field for most of the game and his third goal of the season brought joy to Colorado’s manager, who praised the defender’s character and ability on the pitch. “He’s great to have around the team,” Hudson commented, “Not only is he a really good defender, he’s just a real threat going forward.”
Desperate to secure all three points at home, the Galaxy quickly ignited another attack. Pontius headed down a cross from Romney to Kamara, who played a rapid one-two with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Kamara lost control and the ball tipped off Pontius once more before it fell for Sebastian Lleget, who buried the chance.
L.A.’s second lead lasted half as long as their first. In the eighty-second minute, Castillo played a simple pass to Niki Jackson. The rookie dodged a tackle from Perry Kitchen, cut wide, and attempted to send a shot around defender Daniel Steres.
Whether it was due to luck, instinct, or a combination of both, Jackson’s shot deflected off of Steres and Bingham failed to react in time to keep the ball out of his net.
“I knew when I came in I didn’t have much time to do much, but I wanted to come in and make a difference,” Jackson said of his second goal on the season, “I told myself ‘if I get a chance I’m going to take it.'”
The final ten minutes of play provided much less fanfare than the previous twenty. Aside from another attempt on goal by Kamara that was ruled offside, neither team was able to create a solid opportunity. When the final whistle blew, boos and jeers rained down from the L.A. faithful, who were furious that their side once again had dropped points against Colorado.
The result should further raise the spirits of the Rapids, who dominated possession (60%), completed 631 total passes, and committed fewer fouls than the Galaxy across the match. Jack Price once again racked up an obscene number of passes (110), showcasing an impressive ability to dictate play from the defensive midfield.
Colorado will remain in the City of Angels to train until their Sunday match against the Galaxy’s crosstown rivals, Los Angeles F.C. The Rapids will return to Denver to host Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake the following weekend.
Image Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea