Three times the referee pointed to the spot.
Perhaps it was the quick turnaround between matches or the thin Colorado air, but TFC found itself on the back foot from the opening whistle. A virtually nonexistent Reds’ attack allowed the Rapids to quickly assert themselves in the midfield and control the tempo of the match. Led by the pace of Omar Cummings, Colorado came in waves at TFC, but was unable to trouble goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
At the heart of the Rapids’ midfield, former Rev Larentowicz and stalwart Pablo Mastroeni outplayed their Reds counterparts Martin Saric and Julian de Guzman, which permitted Cummings, along with wingmen Colin Clark and Jamie Smith, to run the TFC defence ragged, but the trio were never seemingly able to find that perfect service for frontman Casey to latch onto. TFC’s ugly trend of cheaply giving the ball away whilst in fleeting possession of it only exacerbated the situation for the visitors.
The Rapids’ dominance did not go unrewarded, but the hosts’ breakthrough came in controversial circumstances. In the 24th, an onrushing Cummings came straight at fullback Adrian Cann. With Colorado forward cutting to his left, Cann lost his footing and the referee immediately indicated a penalty, adjudging that the big TFC defender handled while prone. Replays showed that the ball appeared to have gone off of Cann’s forehead and not his arm, but Toronto’s pleas fell on deaf ears.
From the spot, former Red Casey’s cheeky chip shot fooled Frei and put the hosts deservedly ahead and the Rapids enjoyed the advantage for the rest of the opening 45.
The opening minutes saw the first real spell of attack from Toronto and the Reds were almost able to strike immediately, as a beautiful through ball by de Guzman found a streaking Chad Barrett, who was able to get by Marvell Wynne, but the former TFC defender was able to prevent his old roommate from getting a shot on goal.
Barrett’s strong start to the half continued in the 57th, when his beautifully timed through ball found Sam Cronin in alone on Rapids ‘keeper Matt Pickens. The goalie was unable to deal with the sophomore winger’s deke left and was forced into hauling him down and a penalty was awarded. Pickens was able to guess right on De Rosario’s penalty, but the Toronto captain’s shot had too much power to it and the Reds equalized on DeRo’s 4th goal of the season.
The deadlock was short-lived, however, as the visitors’ old habit of lapses in judgment came back to haunt them once again. With Wells Thompson cutting down the right side, Martin Saric committed an easily avoidable foul at the edge of the Toronto box in the 70th. Jeff Larentowicz’s ensuing free kick was sent directly at the Toronto wall, but Julian de Guzman inexplicably jumped out of the way, allowing the ball safe passage to beat a frozen Frei.
With their lead restored, Colorado once again began to take the play to TFC and the visitors were unable to cope. In the 84th, after De Rosario fouled Larentowicz, right back Maksim Usamov needlessly grabbed a hold of Conor Casey and pulled him to the ground, as the Rapids flooded into the box in anticipation of the forthcoming free kick. For the second time in the match, Casey found himself at the spot and the American international successfully converted again, icing the game and a well deserved 3 points for the Rapids.
Winless now in their first three road matches of the season, TFC returns home to take on Freddie Ljungberg and the Sounders in a week’s time, while the Rapids pay a visit to Foxboro on Saturday to meet Shalrie Joseph’s Revolution.
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