Rapids Salvage Valuable Point in 1-1 Draw Against San Jose

SANTA CLARA Calif. (from MLS and Rapids Reports) -- Through 90 minutes of their game against the Colorado Rapids the San Jose Earthquakes had victory in their grasp. But a stoppage time penalty from Rapids forward Conor Casey allowed the visitors to draw level and the Quakes were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Click here to watch free video highlights of Casey's equalizer.
San Jose had gone ahead through Ryan Johnson's header in the eighth minute and a suddenly resilient Quakes defense thought they had done enough to stymie Colorado's high-octane duo of Casey and Omar Cummings. But two minutes into stoppage time a goalmouth scramble saw Colorado's Drew Moor hauled down by a San Jose defender and Casey duly rammed home the spot kick past Quakes 'keeper Joe Cannon.
With every point precious in the MLS playoff race the draw was one Colorado will gladly take after it looked like they were heading for a disheartening defeat. San Jose meanwhile was left to rue another head-shaking evening in a season that has been full of them.
The match began at a frenetic pace. With the game less than two minutes old a San Jose throw-in was flicked on by Ramon Sanchez to Shea Salinas who rocked the post with a volley from 16 yards. Cornell Glen was first to the rebound but his shot was stuffed by Rapids goalkeeper Preston Burpo.
The Quakes followed up that opportunity with a slick buildup in the fifth minute that ended with Glen feeding Sanchez deep in the box but his shot was blocked by Rapids midfielder Nick LaBrocca.
Colorado responded with a chance of their own a minute later as a half-cleared corner kick was reset to Casey on the left side of the box but his worm-burner was just inches wide of the far post.
With both sides displaying some sharp passing the Quakes went ahead on the simplest of plays. Brandon McDonald's long throw found Johnson in the box and his looping header from eight yards sailed over Burpo and snuck inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.
The Rapids then embarked on a spell of sustained pressure winning a succession of corners as well as creating good chances for Cummings and Mehdi Ballouchy. But a combination of wayward finishing and solid goalkeeping from Cannon kept the Quakes in the lead.
The Quakes nearly doubled their advantage in the 36th minute when a scintillating run from Bobby Convey saw him split two defenders and cut towards the box but his subsequent shot just missed the top right hand corner of the goal.
Colorado showed off their lightning quick ability on the counterattack just four minutes into the second half. Casey played a quick freekick in his own half right into the path of Kosuke Kimura who took the ball deep into San Jose territory. His cross was perfectly timed for Cummings but his header was right at Cannon in the San Jose goal.
San Jose were forced to make the first substitution of the night in the 59th minute when Glen sustained a right knee sprain in a clash with LaBrocca forcing him to make way for Chris Wondolowski. Colorado countered by bringing on Michael Holody for Scott Palguta.
But with chances becoming scarcer by the minute Colorado manager Gary Smith went to his bench again in the 68th minute throwing on Facundo Diz for Jacob Peterson.
The game immediately crackled to life. Cannon was forced to make a fine double save first denying Casey's shot from eight yards and then stopping Cummings rebound attempt from point-blank range. Cannon then had to be sharp again two minutes later as he palmed away a dangerous looking cross from Holody.
The Quakes succeeded in not only calming down the tempo but they thrice came close to making the game safe starting in the 78th minute. Both Salinas and Convey shook loose on the right wing but neither of their centering feeds resulted in clear shots on goal.
Wondolowski and Convey then embarked on a 2-on-1 break in the 82nd minute but Wondolowski failed to read Convey's pass into the box and the chance was squandered.
The Quakes would rue those missed opportunities in the second minute of stoppage time when referee Edvin Jurisevic pointed to the spot after Moor was hauled down.
San Jose won't have too much time to feel sorry for themselves. The two teams will meet again this Wednesday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Jeff Carlisle is a contributor to MLSnet.com.
Rapids AT&T Man of the Match: Conor Casey
Scoring:
SJ- Johnson (McDonald) 8
COL- Casey (penalty kick) 95+
Colorado Rapids- Preston Burpo Julien Baudet Drew Moor Jordan Harvey (Pat Noonan 85) Scott Palguta (Michael Holody 60) Jacob Peterson (Facundo Diz 68) Mehdi Ballouchy Nick LaBrocca Kosuke Kimura Conor Casey Omar Cummings
Substitutes Not Used: Steward Ceus Greg Dalby Ty Harden Ross Schunk
San Jose Earthquakes- Joe Cannon Chris Leitch Jason Hernandez Brandon McDonald Ramiro Corrales Shea Salinas Andre Luiz Ramon Sanchez Bobby Convey (Quincy Amarikwa 87) Cornell Glen (Chris Wondolowski 59) Ryan Johnson
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Burling Simon Elliott Aaron Pitchkolan Antonio Ribeiro Andrew Weber
Misconduct:
COL- Baudet (caution; Reckless Foul) 33
SJ- Chris Leitch (caution; Dissent) 94+
SJ- McDonald (caution; Dissent) 95+
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli David Bragg
Fourth official: Yader Reyes
Attendance: 10525