Colorado Rapids score late to earn 1-1 draw against Dallas

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The Colorado Rapids hosted FC Dallas in the physical and controversial second game of the MLS Friday night double-header. The teams met just two weeks ago at FC Dallas where the Rapids won 4-0 in what is their only win so far in 2015. For this clash, FC Dallas had two key players back in the lineup that missed the previous match against Colorado due to injury: captain/center back Matt Hedges, and midfielder Mauro Diaz. The inclusion of Hedges and Diaz made all the difference for FC Dallas in the first half, until a second half red card to Blas Perez and injury to Hedges provided opportunity for Colorado to come back and earn a point.

In the first half, both teams’ goalkeepers came up big for their sides. In the 5th minute, Dallas forward Blas Perez slipped behind the Rapids defense and into the box for a one-on-one confrontation with Rapids keeper Clint Irwin, but Irwin rushed off his line to make the save. After battling injury for several weeks, former Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy made his debut for FC Dallas at Colorado, keeping his team in the game with two diving saves in the first half from low, close-range shots by Gabriel Torres and Dillon Powers.

Each team produced ample scoring opportunities in the first half, but FC Dallas struck first in the 31st minute when Fabian Castillo made one of his signature zigzagging runs into the box, out-dribbled two defenders, then angled a pass back across the top of the box to a wide open Mauro Diaz who finished a shot for his first goal of the season.

The turning point in this scrappy, contentious match came in the 59th minute when Blas Perez received a straight red card for allegedly knocking Colorado’s Drew Moor to the ground. Moor did fall, but replays of the off-the-ball incident were inconclusive.

Further chaos arrived moments later for FC Dallas when Matt Hedges sustained a bloody nose via an elbow to his head by Axel Sjoberg while defending a Colorado corner kick. As an apparent concussion precaution, Walker Zimmerman replaced Hedges.

Colorado seized on the numeric advantage, forcing Dallas on their defensive heels for the remainder of the match with wave after attacking wave. The Rapids’ pressure paid off in the 79th minute when a left-side cross from Lucas Pittinari found Dillon Powers in the box who headed the ball into the path of Nick LaBrocca who barely beat the on-rushing Kennedy to score the tying goal.

FC Dallas mustered a couple late counter-attacking shots, but the final ten minutes plus stoppage time was all Colorado, with Dallas center back Zach Loyd making two sliding clearances in front of the goal to help salvage the point for his team.

The shared point means FC Dallas enters the weekend in second place in the Western Conference with 14 points (behind Vancouver Whitecaps with 16 points). Colorado remains in last place in the West with seven points. Next week Colorado travels to New York Red Bulls for a Wednesday night game, while FC Dallas travels to in state and Western Conference rival Houston Dynamo on Friday.

 

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