It was a dark and stormy night. Huddling under the roof, in doorways, and bathrooms of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the crowd, spent the evening seeking shelter from the storm.
Meanwhile, neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail would prevent the Rapids and the Red Bulls from finishing their appointed contest.
The few brave fans who weathered the storm were treated to a good game between evenly matched teams.
The Rapids drew first blood. Omar Cummings opened the scoring in the 15th minute off a Conor Casey cross. The play began with Casey on the right touch line calling for the ball while the midfield passed it around. Casey began to make a run, held it up, began another, held up, and then on the third attempt the midfield decided to release him down the right side.
Omar Cummings saw the break and sprinted from the center line straight toward the goal’s far post. Casey sent an excellent low cross across the face of the goal that Omar met easily beating his old teammate Bouna Coundoul with his shot.
The Rapids would score again with a very similar cross just minutes later. Casey battled for a ball in midfield and released Omar Cummings down the same right flank. Omar sent another low pass across the face of the goal for Mehdi Ballouchy to finish.
The Rapids were rolling everyone cheered, but to the astonishment of everyone in the stadium the goal was called back. Casey was adjudged to have fouled his defender in the battle that started the sequence.
Bewildering to Rapids players, coaches and fans, the referee chose not to make the call until after the goal. Baldomero Toledo may have believed that Casey had committed a foul, but if that were the case than everyone in the stadium, every fan of the sport has the right to expect an immediate whistle. Baldomero chose instead to let the play unfold to its conclusion before placing his hand on the scale.
The call dampened spirits a bit, and New York pushed to equalize.
It’s been noted time and time again that only one goal against the Rapids have come through the run of play. The reason for that is the Rapids midfield and defense does an excellent job of shutting down the opposition. Unfortunately, in the process the defense runs the risk of giving up fouls and corner kicks.
It was a corner kick that did the damage on Saturday night. New York’s danger-man Juan Pablo Angel was the one to produce the goal.
On the corner Drew Moor who had been marking Angel stepped forward and leaped to head the ball clear, but Moor misjudged the flight of the ball. Instead the ball flew over Moor and right into Angel’s midsection. Angel trapped the ball then beat Matt Pickens with a shot into the top of the net.
The two teams would end the first half with a goal a piece.
Any halftime plans to come out and sieze control of the match were foiled by the weather as the skies began to open up.
On a cold a dreary night, in July – JULY – it would be easy to point to the effects of the weather on the two teams, but standing between the Rapids and another goal was Bouna Coundoul who was probably the most influential player on the field. Bouna swatted, caught, and smothered the Rapids best attempts.
Both teams might fancy that on a calm night the game would have swung their way. In the end the 1-1 draw represents an escape as much as a triumph as the wet slippery conditions could have easily created a goal that neither team deserved to give up.
To find out who the better team is the two will have to wait until September 11th for the return leg of the series.