Dallas Draw Against Colorado, Move Into Playoff Spot by Chris Brown
Colorado Rapids welcomed their arch rivals, FC Dallas, into Dick’s Sporting Good’s Park for a late season Western Conference clash.
FC Dallas were the team that knocked Colorado out of playoff contention a few weeks ago though Colorado making the playoffs was really out of the question in May. Dallas has also knocked the Rapids out of the U.S. Open Cup the last two seasons and just beat out the 2016 version of the Rapids, the good version, to the Supporter’s Shield after the two sides battled for that honor all 2016 long.
Colorado had a few surprising names in the starting line up as Alan Gordon, normally used as a sub, lead the Rapids line. Stefan Aigner started in the number ten spot for the second match in a row and Zac MacMath played in place of Tim Howard, who is missing on international duty with the United States.
FC Dallas are fighting for their playoff lives at the moment. Coming into the match Dallas were on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture looking in, level on points with Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes with 42 points, but their goal differential is worse than both San Jose an Real. Anything less than a win against a poor Colorado side would be a failure.
The Rapids started brightly and in the 6th minute Colorado struck the woodwork after all six feet seven inches of Axel Sjoberg rose for a corner kick only to nod it against the near post.
In the 15th minute Colorado took the lead through Stefan Aigner. Aigner received the ball just across midfield and played it wide to the right wing where Joshua Gatt took the ball. Aigner immediately made a run after playing the pass out wide and Gatt crossed well to Aigner at the near post. Aigner took a first time shot and the ball slipped just inside Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez’s arm, clipping it and then dribbling slowly across the goal line giving Colorado the 1-0 lead.
After the Rapid goal Dallas began to dominate the match. Colorado almost seamed happy to take their goal and sit deep to preserve the lead, though the match was far too young to employ such a tactic.
Colorado almost went ahead even further after Stefan Aigner sent in a cross to Alan Gordon. Gordon watched the ball slip over the defender at the near post and tried to settle the ball of his chest. The ball got a bit away from Gordon but the seasoned attacker was still able to get a shot on goal, though Jesse Gonzalez was able to get low to stop the chance.
Dallas almost evened the score through Michael Barrios. Maximiliano Urruti played Barrios in on the right side of the Rapid box and Barrios shot hard toward the Colorado near post, but Zac MacMath did well to get down and save the chance, preserving the Rapid lead.
At halftime Colorado lead 1-0.
Colorado were surprisingly good in the first half and came out just as brightly in the second. In the 51st minute Colorado should have gone up by two goals to nil when Stefan Aigner, the most influential player to this point in the match, sent a ball into the box for Alan Gordon. Gordon did well to rise at the far post and head on goal but Gonzalez had plenty of time to track the flight of the ball in and position himself to easily save the Gordon header. Colorado would pay for their missed opportunities just minutes later.
Dallas won a corner kick in the 54th minute and the ensuring set piece found the head of defender Atiba Harris who was able to head back into the direction of the corner and freeze Zac MacMath as the ball slammed into the back of the Rapid net, leveling the match at a goal a piece.
After leveling the match Dallas began to crank up the pressure. Colorado were pinned deep in their half the and hoops looked like the more likely team to break the match open.
Colorado sat deep, preserving the draw but were willing to spring counter attacks whenever possible. The match became fairly open in the last 30 minutes as Dallas knew that three points against a poor Colorado side could put them back into a playoff position.
Though Dallas surged late on they were unable to break down the Rapid defense and at the final whistle the match ended level at a goal a piece.
Dallas will be disappointed with the result but thankful that the point moves them just above Real Salt Lake into the 8th and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Dallas has two games left this season to cement that playoff spot as they travel to Seattle to face the Sounders on October 15th before closing out the season at home against Las Angeles Galaxy.