Mar 2, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard (1) heads to the stands to greet fans after the match against the Portland Timbers at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Playing in sub-freezing conditions, the new-look Colorado Rapids opened their season at home against the Portland Timbers. Despite being reduced to 10 men in the first half, Colorado weathered the storm both literally and figuratively, coming back to earn a 3-3 result with a second-half stoppage time goal from rookie Andre Shinyashiki.
“I thought we were very good,” Rapids coach Anthony Hudson said. “I thought we were really confident. We looked good going forward and scoring the goal, we were in a good place. It’s a shame because the sending off changed what was a good game at the time.”
With five new players in the starting XI, Colorado opened the scoring as Kellyn Acosta crossed the ball to newcomer Kei Kamara, who coolly finished to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.
“I think there were big performances,” Hudson said of the new additions. “I thought the new players did very well. But I think the biggest thing was to come back twice. It’s massive for this group.”
A quarter of an hour later, the tides shifted as Rapids defender Axel Sjoberg was sent off for a deliberate handball in the box. Diego Valeri’s initial effort from the penalty spot was saved by Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard. But Valeri gathered the rebound to score on a follow-up effort to level the score at 1-1 in the 29th minute.
“We were told it hit his hand, but there was no way of getting his hand out of the way,” Hudson said of Sjoberg’s sending off. “That’s what we were told.”
Portland took its first lead in first-half stoppage time as Sebastian Blanco connected with Valeri’s corner to send the visitors into the half with a 2-1 lead.
Despite going down a goal and a man, Colorado battled to level the match in the second half. Benny Feilhaber, another new face to the Rapids, leveled just seconds into the second half. Feilhaber dribbled through seven different Portland players to send in an effort which was initially blocked, but he scored on the follow up to even the score at 2-2.
The deadlock wouldn’t stand, however. On a Portland counterattack, midfielder Andy Polo sent in a dangerous cross across Colorado’s box, which resulted in an own goal by Rapids defender Deklan Wynne in the 66th minute.
With the lead, Portland began to take control of the game’s possession while continuing to outshoot Colorado. The Timbers ended the match with 22 shots (seven on target) compared to the Rapids 10 shots (three on target) while holding 58.2 percent of possession.
Nevertheless, Colorado battled yet again, tying with a late-ditch effort. Dillon Serna’s shot in the attacking third was saved by Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, but the rebound spilled to Shinyashiki, who ended the match at 3-3.
“To come back twice from a goal down showed a huge amount of character from the players,” Hudson said of the result. “As you know, in those situations, you’re down to 10 men, the conditions are the way they are, you’re playing against one of the best teams in the country. The easiest thing to do is to give up [in those conditions], but they kept going.”
Colorado will face the Seattle Sounders next Saturday night at CenturyLink field, while the Timbers continue their season-opening road trip against LAFC next Sunday.