MLS fans were treated in the lone Tuesday night game as Western Conference opponents Colorado Rapids and L.A. Galaxy faced off for the second time in 10 days. After looking like a gritty defensive battle for the first half, the two sides broke through for four goals in a span of 24 minutes. Ashley Cole’s opening goal (59’) gave the hosting Galaxy the initial lead before Edgar Castillo (74’) answered to tie the match at 1-1. Sebastian Lletget scored four minutes later to give L.A. a 2-1 advantage, but rookie Niki Jackson scored his second of the season (82’) to help the visiting Rapids earn a road point at StubHub Center.
Here are some takeaways from Colorado’s 2-2 draw with L.A.
Homie Don’t Play That
Mexican-American defender Edgar Castillo, known by the nickname “Homie” to Mexican fans and broadcasters, has been one of the few bright spots throughout at downtrodden 2018 season for Colorado. On Tuesday night, fans bore witness to both the best and worst of the 31-year-old, who shouldered responsibility on three of the game’s four goals.
Castillo’s equalizing goal in the 74th minute was world class and he rightfully earned praise from his teammates for it.
“That’s what my teammates said, I just score really good goals,” Castillo told reporter postgame. “I mean, I just got the ball, hit it and it went in. All the goals I have are good goals, and it comes off my teammates, it’s not only me.”
But just moments late, a rare defensive lapse by Castillo gave Lletget the time and space to sneak behind for the go-ahead goal:
Castillo bounced back, however. In a show of his veteran savvy and short memory, he responded to provide the assist on Jackson’s goal, which helped Colorado earn a result.
“I think he’s handful right now,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson said of Castillo. “He’s an exciting player. He’s an unbelievable character in the dressing room. He’s great to have around the team and obviously, as you can see on the pitch, not only is he a really really good defender, he’s just a real threat going forward. I think the more time he has with us around the players and in the team he’s just growing confidence and I’m pleased for him at the moment.”
Down with the sickness
Alongside Dillon Serna, who got the start on Tuesday, Kellyn Acosta has shown to be a vital component to the possessive, attacking soccer Colorado has displayed for the past three games.
The duo gave L.A. fits on the counter attack, and Acosta was once again solid in his distribution of the ball, completing over 75 percent of his passes.
But the Rapids took a hit when Acosta, who was shown throwing up on the field, had to be subbed off early in the second half due to illness.
With Colorado playing another road match against LAFC on Sunday, it’s cause for some uneasiness, if not genuine concern heading into the second leg of the Rapids’ Los Angeles road trip.
As Hudson said, “The bottom line is we need as many big characters, strong characters, people that can go into a game and trust they are going to deliver a game plan.”
Rapids finding their flow?
With nine points in six matches and seven points in the past three contests, Colorado is in arguably its best form of the season, matched only by a stretch of eight points in four games back in April.
This current stretch feels more convincing from Colorado, having earned four points against the currently playoff-bound Galaxy while playing attractive, attacking football. While playoffs are still a longshot for this club, Colorado’s play has given the fans in Commerce City hope for the future.
The past three matches have shown the “Keep Fighting” mantra that the team popularized during the Rapids’ successful 2016 campaign, with Colorado scoring late goals in each.
“The last few games there has been many late goals and it just shows that we are sticking to the game plan for the full 90 minutes, plus stoppage,” Rapids forward Niki Jackson said of the team’s current outlook. “It just shows out perseverance, how hard we want to work and how hard we want to get the points on the road, and at home. It just shows how hard our team is working and staying together.”