In their opening match of the 2019 season, the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers faced off in the midst of an early March snowstorm in Commerce City.
Despite three different lead changes and a red card to Colorado, which led to two different Portland leads, the 10-man Rapids stormed back with a late stoppage time goal from Andre Shinyashiki to split points with the defending Western Conference Champions.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 3-3 draw with Portland.
Blustery Day in Burgundy
Saturday’s match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park surpassed 2017’s match between Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC as the coldest MLS match on record with an official temp of 18 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff.
The temperatures, along with snowy and windy conditions had an apparent affect on the game.
“It’s really not easy to play in the conditions we had tonight,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson said.
The conditions also played a role in the X-factor of this match – Andre Shinyashiki and is equalizer at the death. Despite his Brazilian background, the rookie from the University of Denver is well aware of what it’s like to play cold weather soccer in Colorado.
With the conditions the way they were, and it being early days in the 2019 season, it makes it hard to grade Colorado and Portland accurately, aside from mentality and effort, a test which the Rapids passed with flying colors in this one.
Kamara Doing it all
It didn’t take long for new Rapids addition Kei Kamara to get on the scoresheet as he added Colorado’s first goal of the season and his first in burgundy to open up the game’s scoring in the 16th minute. It was both surprising and unsurprising.
Pundits, perhaps rightfully, doubted Kamara for his age at 34-years-old. Some see him as a diva and not a good teammate, due to his past publicized dispute with Frederico Huguain.
But Kamara proved the naysayers wrong on Satuday. He did it not just by scoring, but also by getting in and doing the dirty work in possession. Defensively, he also contributed some tackles and clearances in the Rapids’ own half.
“The fact that he picked up some positions to help the team out shows the type of character he is and the type of person we’ve seen since he’s come into preseason,” Hudson said of Kamara. “He cares a lot. He’s been a great teammate. That’s just a small portion of it. That showed [against Portland].”
New and Improved Rapids?
Colorado is most undoubtedly a better team than it was last year, at least in terms of roster and roster improvements. Pundits and even team executives around the league acknowledged the team’s offseason as an active but productive one. The Rapids brought in proven MLS talent such as Kamara, Benny Feilhaber, Keegan Rosenberry, Diego Rubio and Nicolas Mezquida. They also drafted Andre Shinyashiki.
All of those moves paid early dividends on Satuday with newcomers accounting for all three of Colorado’s goals on Saturday.
“I think there were big performances,” Hudson said of his new players. “It was a shame, because for me, the sending off changed the game [against Portland] and it changed our performance. So, as the game was going on, I was disappointed because up until then, we looked really good. Our fullbacks were getting forward, our two strikers looked dangerous, I thought we played well in the difficult conditions.”
But it’s still early days for the new-look Rapids and it’s a long 34-game season. It’s still too early to tell if Colorado is indeed improved enough to make the playoffs and questions remain regarding whether or not the Rapids can sustain success under Anthony Hudson. But with the team trending positively, Rapids fans are ready to buckle up for the road that lies ahead.