COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – In Conor Casey’s debut as interim manager of the Colorado Rapids, the club hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps, still seeking their first win of 2019.
But instead of a victory, Colorado (0-8-2, 2 points) fell once again, losing 3-2 Friday after substitute Andy Rose found a late goal for the Whitecaps (2-5-3, 9 points) while the Rapids played with 10 men. The loss marks the seventh in a row for Colorado.
“Disappointed. I’m disappointed for the guys once again,” Casey told reporters postgame. “Frustration. They deserve to win and have been working hard to get there.”
First-half magic from Whitecaps striker Fredy Montero propelled Vancouver to an early 2-0 lead with a goal and an assist, but Colorado answered with two well-taken penalties from Kei Kamara to level the match.
“They had certainly a lot of energy and a lot of fight,” Rose said of the Rapids. “We have a lot of respect for the. players on their roster, incredibly talented players that are very proven in MLS, so it was a really tough test. 2-0 up on the road, you expect to come home with three points, but it’s a credit to them to battle back. They never gave up.”
Montero’s strike came in the 16th minute, the forward springing free onto a deft through ball from Lass Bangoura and sending a low finish past goalkeeper Tim Howard to put the visitors up 1-0.
Vancouver doubled its lead minutes later when Montero sent a cross from near the endline inside the Rapids’ 6-yard box to Lucas Venuto, who put his shot into the roof of Colorado’s net in the 26th minute.
Colorado pulled a goal back in the 38th minute after a penalty was awarded for Whitecaps midfielder Hwang In-beom’s takedown of Kellyn Acosta in the box. Kei Kamara buried the PK to make the score 2-1 just before the half.
Possession was nearly even between the two sides at the half and Colorado had outshot the visitors 7-4, but the Whitecaps’ two shots on target to the Rapids’ one marked the difference.
Colorado came out and put Vancouver under pressure in the second half, earning a second penalty in the 53rd minute after video review showed contact by Whitecaps substitute Brett Levis against Rapids defender Axel Sjoberg in the 6-yard box.
Kamara buried the second PK opportunity to level the match.
Acosta nearly gave Colorado its first lead of the match, dribbling down the right side of Vancouver’s defense and putting a shot into the path of Whitecaps’ keeper Maxime Crepeau.
“Max is incredibly talented and a big part of our team and once again today he came up big,” Rose said of his teammate’s performance in net.
Colorado’s hope for a win was hampered in the 77th minute. Rapids’ midfielder Diego Rubio was sent off with a red card for violent conduct, leaving them with 10 men for the remainder of the match.
“I haven’t seen it,” Casey said of the play. “Obviously, it had an effect on the game. We had good momentum and it looked like we were able to turn it into three points.”
Five minutes after Rubio’s sending off, the visitors appeared to go in front on a goal from Bangoura. But it was called off due to Rose being offside.
But in the 87th minute, Rose redeemed himself, beating Sjoberg and sneaking a shot past Howard to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead and the eventual win.
It was another display of the defensive liabilities Colorado has displayed all season, an issue Casey lamented after the match.
“The goals against are still catching us,” he explained. “It’s a difficult balance. We want to play attractive we want to play forward, especially at home. It’s a tough balance.”
Colorado will continue to seek its first win next Saturday at home against Rocky Mountain Cup rival Real Salt Lake, while Vancouver returns home for a derby match of its own, facing Cascadia rivals Portland on Friday.
Said Casey: “At the end of the day I want to win and so does this team and so does this club.”