BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Most of the league may already be on break, but the Chicago Fire and the Colorado Rapids had business to attend to Wednesday night. And for Rapids forward Conor Casey, the office stayed open real late.
Casey scored an equalizer in the 91st minute of play, which canceled out a two-goal effort from Fire winger Marco Pappa to give the visiting Rapids a 2-2 draw in front of 13,607 at Toyota Park. Casey's goal pushes Colorado's unbeaten streak to 4 games.
It was Colorado who got on the board first. Midfielder Omar Cummings put the Rapids ahead in the 21st minute, beating a Chicago defender to Casey’s pass near the penalty spot and hitting a right-footed shot inside ‘keeper Andrew Dykstra’s left post with his first touch.
But the Rapids couldn’t hold the lead for long, lasting only two minutes before Pappa equalized. Fire midfielder Justin Mapp got fouled only a yard outside the box and Pappa made the Rapids pay, burying the 19-yard free kick after exchanging touches with midfielder Baggio Husidic, who was also lined up over the ball.
The Fire nearly snatched the lead in the 32nd minute. Pappa picked up a loose ball on the left side of the box and fed Nyarko – who was making a near post run – nicely just six yards from goal. Nyarko did well to hit a left-footed shot on frame, but he was bested by a reaction save from Pickens.
Pappa then put the Fire ahead in the 46th minute. The play, which was eerily similar to the Fire’s second goal in last July’s 2-1 win over the Rapids, began with Husidic chesting a Brian McBride header down just outside the right side of the area. After controlling the ball, Husidic feigned a shot at goal and played Pappa through with a delicious backheel. The 22-year-old Guatemalan did the rest, running onto the ball and firing a low left-footed shot inside the far post with his first touch.
Casey leveled the match in stoppage time with a clinical finish of substitute midfielder Jamie Smith’s cross. Smith hit an early ball in from the left flank, and Casey took advantage of some poor marking by Fire defender Wilman Conde at the back post to head the ball past Dykstra and into the back of the net.
By all rights, Colorado should have equalized in the 71st, when Omar Cummings was absolutely robbed of scoring a second goal. Cummings fielded the bouncing ball and ripped a right-footed half volley past Dykstra. Unfortunately for the Rapids, Cummings’s shot hit the inside of the left post and stayed out, rebounding across the face of goal and out of danger.
Both teams now head into the two-and-a-half week World Cup break. Chicago resumes play at New England on June 27 while Colorado will resume their league schedule on June 26 in Houston.
Colorado Rapids 2, at Chicago Fire 2
Colorado Rapids (6-3-2)
Chicago Fire (3-3-5)
COL -- Omar Cummings 3 (Conor Casey 2, Mehdi Ballouchy 2) 21
CHI -- Marco Pappa 4 (Baggio Husidic 1) 23
CHI -- Marco Pappa 5 (Baggio Husidic 2, Brian McBride 2) 46+
COL -- Conor Casey 5 (Jamie Smith 2, Danny Earls 1) 91+
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Marvell Wynne, Julien Baudet (Scott Palguta 5), Drew Moor, Danny Earls, Omar Cummings, Mehdi Ballouchy, Ross LaBauex (Wells Thompson 46), Jeff Larentowicz, Colin Clark (Jamie Smith 80), Conor Casey. Substitutes Not Used: Claudio Lopez, Quincy Amarikwa, Andre Akpan, Ian Joyce.
Chicago Fire -- Andrew Dykstra, Dasan Robinson, C.J. Brown, Wilman Conde, Krzysztof Krol, Marco Pappa, Baggio Husidic, Logan Pause, Justin Mapp (Mike Banner 73), Patrick Nyarko, Brian McBride (Collins John 65). Substitutes Not Used: Peter Lowry, Julio Martinez, Deris Umanzor, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Sean Johnson.
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher; Peter Manikowski
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:53