In a wild match that had it all, the Colorado Rapids drew the Portland Timbers 2-2 in their first visit to the newly remodeled Providence Park. Portland too an early 1-0 lead in the 27th minute on a Tommy Smith own goal before Jonathan Lewis responded a minute later to level the match at 1-1.
In the second half, the Timbers went down to 10 men on a straight red card foul by Julio Cascante. Despite this, Portland took a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute on a Diego Valeri penalty kick following a handball assessed to Rapids defender Lalas Abubakar. But substitute Sam Nicholson helped the Rapids level the match again at 2-2 with his frozen rope effort in the 76th minute as both teams left with a point.
Here are three takeaways from the Colorado Rapids’ 2-2 draw with Portland:
After re-affirming himself as a consistent part of the Rapids defense in the preferred centerback pairing alongside Lalas Abubakar under interim head coach Conor Casey, Tommy Smith had one of his poorest performances of the season on Saturday night. Smith accumulated a yellow card and an own goal early in the match, which gave the Timbers a 1-0 lead before Colorado’s equalizer.
After the match Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey said Colorado was just “one play away” from a win, referring to the numerous missed opportunities in the match, but if the Rapids were to erase just one from this match, the own goal would probably be at the top of the list.
Wing man is back
It’s been a small sample size for winger Jonathan Lewis since arriving in Colorado at the trade deadline, but it’s been an impressive one. Lewis only recently returned to the Rapids following an extended period with the U.S. Men’s National Team throughout their Gold Cup run, but in his first game back, made an immediate impact.
On the ensuing attack following Tommy Smith’s own goal, Lewis injected life back into Colorado with an equalizer in the 28th minute. Colorado’s attack awakened, and nearly went ahead just before halftime as Lewis nearly became the assist man on a dangerous shot from Andre Shinyashiki, but back to back saves from Steve Clark kept the game at 1-1.
The goal marked the third in four appearances for Lewis since joining Colorado in May.
“It lifted the team spirit,” Lewis said of his goal. “We scored an own goal, but it lifted the team spirit. Like I said, today we were unlucky, but this is a hard place to play and we got a point. We should have come out with a win, but we have to be happy with a point.”
A bit of everything
In the end, neither team will feel it was a fair result, but the 2-2 draw wasn’t short of entertainment.
Own goals, handballs, red cards, penalty kicks and goalkeepers standing on their heads.
Of note, Steve Clark put forth a Man of the Match effort in net for Portland, ending the match with six saves. It helped preserve a point for the hosts after going down to 10-men following Julio Cascante’s red card.
“I don’t know if it’s a disappointing result looking at the way the conditions and situation went,” said Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese. “I think maybe when you think it’s a home match and you want to always win at home, definitely we want to have three points. But due to the circumstances of the match I think actually the point was important, was good.”
The Timbers will feel hard done by earning just a point at home, but it helped them hold serve in the standings against Colorado, which remains in last place in the Western Conference.
Conor Casey continues to provide hope for Colorado, however, which has continued to earn points at a clip of nearly 1.64 points per match in his 11 matches at the helm as interim head coach. It’s a mark that alone would stand against other teams in the West as playoff worthy, if not for the abysmal start under former head coach Anthony Hudson.
“I thought it was a really exciting and entertaining game,” Casey said postgame. “It was a great show for the fans and a great atmosphere and a good amount of football. We were a bit disappointed in the end. I think we had enough chances to win, a lot of very good chances and a bit of a dubious penalty kick.”
Nonetheless, the Rapids are still within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the West, having games in hand over several teams. It should make for a wild finish as teams fight for playoffs as the MLS regular season inches towards its conclusion.