Colorado Rapids forward Dominique Badji (14) defends as Orlando City SC defender Amro Tarek (3) passes the ball in the second half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The Colorado Rapids led 1-0 after Dominique Badji’s goal in the 25th minute, but a second-half collapse and goals from Cristian Higuita and Yoshi Yotun helped propel Orlando City to a 2-1 win over Colorado on Sunday afternoon.
It marked the first home loss of 2018 for Colorado, which currently sits eighth in the Western Conference. The Rapids now head to Kansas City for a Saturday night date with conference rivals Sporting Kansas City.
Here are three things we learned from Colorado’s loss to Orlando City:
Late game lapses: Infinity War
Just like the over-recycled source material and characters from comic book films, Rapids fans have seen this too many times in 2018: The Rapids in a strong position to earn points from a match, only to concede in the second half and drop points.
It happened again on Sunday as Colorado took an early lead, which once again evaporated in the second half.
Rapids forward Dominique Badji, who saw his opening goal render moot, said it best, “I don’t know what it was, but we just get away from [the game plan]. I think we just need to stay tuned in. It’s easy to stay tuned in for 70-80 minutes, but for that full 90, we need to work on that. It’s those minutes where we need to grind it out. That’s where we need to buckle down and get it. That’s not something we can practice. That’s something that comes from within.”
Referees lost control, but dictated result
In Colorado’s 3-0 loss to rivals Real Salt Lake last weekend, rookie head referee Joseph Dickerson did well to stick to his red-card decision against Tim Howard early in the match and review what turned out to be a Tommy Smith handball and penalty opportunity late in the match.
In an ironic twist, Sunday’s match between Colorado and Orlando seemed to be the opposite from official José Carlos Rivero and company.
The match featured four yellow cards to the Rapids compared to just one for Orlando in addition to numerous controversial or missed calls, including apparent handballs from both teams and debate whether Badji’s goal was offside or Orlando’s penalty was indeed a penalty.
Because Tommy Smith's playing I'm watching the MLS, Colorado Rapids v Orlando. Referee is rubbish and has lost control. No consistency and now the tackles are flying in.
— Tim Kenny, allegedly (@SirTimKenny) April 29, 2018
HT | Badji's goal — and I'm not entirely convinced he wasn't offside, though I'm at a bad angle — is the difference here. Orlando City down 1-0. #COLvORL
— Jordan Culver (@JordanCulver) April 29, 2018
Granted, these types of debates occur following nearly every soccer match, but the sheer number of points of contention in this match point to a loss of control by the referees.
Rapids manager Anthony Hudson provided little insight into the referees’ performance on Sunday.
“I certainly think when we look back at the game, we’ll have a better idea of that but for now, everyone can make their minds up on that one,” Hudson said postgame.
Fortnite: The storm came without warning
Colorado boasted of a seven-game unbeaten streak heading into the match against Orlando:
Orlando's coming in hot, but we've gone seven straight unbeaten at home.
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) April 25, 2018
But that stat was somewhat of a misnomer. That run, dating back to last season, included three draws – two of which where the Rapids conceded in the second half, including this year’s 2-2 tie with Sporting KC where Colorado was in front 2-0 to start the half.
That unbeaten streak also applied only to league play. The Rapids lost handily to a full Toronto side in CCL play back in February in a match that the club treated as an extension of preseason while Colorado’s 2-0 win in regular season play was against a TFC side which primarily consisted of reserves.
But on-field performances aren’t the sole reason behind the lack of a dominant atmosphere at home. Orlando City supporters proved to be louder and more visible for this nationally televised game.
— lukekmanock (@l_manock) April 30, 2018
Both the club and the fans need to do better before Dick’s Sporting Goods Park can truly be referred to as a “fortress.”