A first half goal from Minnesota playmaker Miguel Ibarra (20’) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead heading into halftime. The Rapids responded with a goal from Edgar Castillo to knot the game at 1-1 before a Christian Ramirez strike gave Minnesota a 2-1 lead (65’). Substitute Joe Mason scored again for Colorado to make it a 2-2 game (74’) before Ibarra was sent off (77’) for a punch to Rapids defender Danny Wilson. After Minnesota went down a man, Tommy Smith’s header at the death gave Colorado a 3-2 win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Here are three takeaways from the Colorado Rapids’ 3-2 win over Minnesota:
The Tommy Smith Show
Like a different Tommy Smyth says, “He’s been putting them in the back of the ‘ol onion bag”
After struggling for much of the season to find his deft touch on set pieces, Rapids defender Tommy Smith now has two goals and an assist to his name in two games. He also has back-to-back Man of the Match honors to add to his Rapids resume.
It’s performances like those which make us understand why head coach Anthony Hudson favors him.
“I’m pleased because we’ve been so close so many times,” Hudson said of Smith’s game winner in extra time. “I’m pleased with Tommy’s reaction. He’s a strong character. He’s a big character. I was pleased that he got his reward and the goal in the end was for the whole team.”
These violent delights have violent ends
Prior to his sending off in the 77th minute for “violent conduct” Miguel Ibarra was doing everything for Minnesota United offensively; scoring the opener and providing the assist on the visitor’s second goal. But a punch to Rapids defender Danny Wilson led to the midfielder leaving the game before the night was over.
But no one from the Minnesota side seemed to care or have any remorse for the red card.
“The fourth official said Miguel punched a guy in the head,” said MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath. “We’ve seen it and I don’t think he does. What follows after, on Miguel, is probably worse than what he got sent off for. I don’t like criticizing the officials because people use it as an excuse, but some of the decisions today are a little bit baffling for me.”
It’s understandable that Heath would defend his player, but the coach should also be furious that a lapse in judgement led to who had been the game’s best player at that point being sent off.
Ibarra similarly, cared for little other than the result (which was arguably lost due to Minnesota spending the final minutes and added time down a man).
“I was just trying to get the ball and they told me that I tried to punch him,” Ibarra said. “I had no intent of punching; I was just trying to get the ball. We were just shoving back and forth and unfortunately, I got the worst of it. I feel bad because the team lost but now I just have to move forward.”
In a game where rule changes and referees are trying to put an end to violent play and an emphasis on player safety, actions like those displayed by Ibarra on Saturday night have no place.
Sharing is caring
Rapids striker Dominique Badji is still bearing the workload offensively for Colorado, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the team’s offense.
But in the past two games, the Rapids have suddenly earned four points in the table, and the team is sharing the wealth. Colorado has scored five goals with four different players in those games. When Colorado isn’t one dimensional, they’re a tougher team to beat.
Adding to the dynamism was the injection of a healthy Joe Mason and Shkëlzen Gashi. Neither player has spent as much time on the pitch as would’ve been ideal due to injury, but when those pieces are in the works, the Rapids are a much tougher team to face in the attack.
Will we see more of Mason and Gashi moving forward?
Said Hudson, “We’ll see.”