COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Looking to avoid extending a club-record eight game losing streak, the Colorado Rapids finally stepped away with a point Wednesday night. They weathered a comeback effort from the Chicago Fire to earn a 2-2 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“In the end, when it’s all said and done, I’m happy that we’ve stopped the bleeding,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson told reporters postgame. “That was really important because, psychologically we’ve got a little break now. We probably did enough, at the end, to get three points. We had some good chances at the end. We’re disappointed that we didn’t get three points but pleased that we’ve stopped that run.”
Rapids forward Dominique Badji opened the scoring in the 7th minute, collecting a throughball from Rapids defender Tommy Smith and sending a low shot past Fire goalkeeper Richard Sanchez to give Colorado the 1-0 lead.
Smith doubled the lead to 2-0 in the 15th minute, heading an effort into goal on a cross from Jack Price. It marked Smith’s goal for Colorado and his first in MLS.
“To be honest I didn’t see much out of it because it came out of the sun,” Smith said of the goal. “But I knew Pricey put it in a good area and I just had to get contact on it.”
Despite conceding the pair of early goals, Chicago fought back. Led by midfielder Aleksandar Katai, the visitors scored back-to-back goals to tie the match. In the 21st minute, Katai’s cross deflected off Rapids defender Danny Wilson into Colorado’s goal, cutting the lead to 2-1. Three minutes later, Katai’s curling shot from outside the box beat Tim Howard to tie the match at 2-2.
“It was a very nice goal, but it’s not enough because we are going home with one point,” Katai said of the effort. “It would be nicer if we were going home with three points.”
Smith almost put Colorado back in front just before the half, but his headed effort off a Price free kick went wide of the mark.
“It was two goals of our own making,” Smith said of the first half defensive effort from Colorado. “They didn’t do much to carve us open, so we’re disappointed in those, but I think it was just important that we didn’t lose today.”
Both sides entered the half level in shots (5) and shots on target (2), but Chicago held the edge in possession with 56 percent of the ball in the stanza.
The Fire continued to control possession in the second half, but both sides had prime opportunities to go in front.
Brandt Bronico, Diego Campos, and Bastian Schweinsteiger all had opportunities on goal just before the 80th minute, but none could find the mark.
Chicago went down to 10 men in the 82nd minute when Johan Kappelhof was sent off with a second yellow due to dangerous play. The decision was made by head referee José Carlos Rivero with the assistance of the VAR.
In extra time, Rapids forward Joe Mason’s left footed shot from the center of the box was saved by Sanchez. An additional effort shortly after from Wilson was saved.
Despite the late pressure from Colorado, Chicago’s defense held as the visitors took home a road point.
“This is disappointment,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunović said following the result. “Disappointment for many reasons. This is not the image that we want and we’ve got to make changes in our attitude and in our behavior. Especially within the game.”
For the Rapids, however, it largely marked a feeling of relief following eight-straight losses in league play and nine-straight across all competitions.
“We’ve stopped the rut now,” said Rapids midfielder Jack Price. “It was embarrassing for the lads, for the staff. It wasn’t nice for the fans to go through that. Obviously, we’ve stopped that now so we need to build a bit of confidence. We’re looking forward to the next game now.”
Colorado will now face a 10-day break from league play before it resumes action at home against Minnesota United FC on June 23. The Fire will return to action next Wednesday on the road against Atlanta United in the U.S. Open Cup before traveling to Seattle to face the Sounders next Saturday.