After pulling off a stunning stoppage time goal to steal a point in Houston, the Red Bulls came home for a mid-week tilt against the defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids. This was a side that was missing several players due to injury including Jamaican international striker Omar Cummings with a leg injury. For the Red Bulls they were without Dane Richards who was called in for Gold Cup duty with Jamaica and Rafa Marquez was out with a groin strain.
It was some good action after the opening whistle from both sides as they looked strong and made attacking runs, but it would be a lazy foul that would cost the Red Bulls early. But the spot of the foul was in question. In the 27th Minute Andre Akpan was jogging towards the area when Roy Miller shoved him down with his right arm. Awarding a foul was the correct call, but the ref’s decision to point to the spot was incorrect. The replay clearly showed that Akpan was outside the area when fouled.
It was Jeff Larentowicz who took the penalty, which was stopped by Greg Sutton, but he would accidentally tap it back to Larentowicz who had an easy rebound for the goal. Already behind, the Red Bulls would equalize two minutes later.
Joel Lindpere brought the ball up the far side and crossed to Dwayne De Rosario. When De Rosario was in the area, he laid it off towards Thierry Henry who slotted home his sixth of the season. As Henry grabbed the ball out of the net he jogged all the way back to midfield and placed the ball on the center spot, but Akpan was unsportsmanlike and kicked the ball away.
In the 32nd minute Henry fouled Akpan for his childish behavior but sadly he also gave the Rapids a second chance to take the lead. The free kick was from 25 yards away. And it was Larentowicz who ripped the free kick through the wall, took two bounces and past Sutton who never moved for the ball at all. Standing like a statue, Greg Sutton allowed the ball into the net.
Next minute another equalizer for the Red Bulls came from former Notts County man Luke Rodgers as he got a great chip from Roy Miller and got behind the ball on his run. Matt Pickens off his line tried to smother it, but a toepoke chip from Rodgers bounced over the goal line for the second equalizer of the match. Four goals scored in seven minutes was pretty exciting to see in the first half, but in the second the Rapids bunkered in and earned their draw.
After the match Gary Smith was pleased with his side’s performance. “We’re missing six senior players and I include Conor (Casey) in that because he is still coming back from his hamstring problems” said Smith. “To score two goals here against a team that is absolutely laden with quality, not only to get a point, but to perform. I think you got what you want there.”
While Greg Sutton did get his second consecutive match in between the posts, I felt he had a poor game. I could understand why he played against Houston to give Bouna Coundoul a breather. Unlike the strong game last week, Sutton’s decisionmaking was very poor and no matter how many times he came off his line to challenge balls, the Rapids either just barely missed or Tim Ream saved his bacon.
But now it’s a quick trip to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps at Empire Field while missing half of their starters due to Gold Cup participation.
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