The way Conor Casey celebrated his last minute equalizer against Chicago last week said a lot about how the Colorado Rapids are feeling about their play this season.
Casey scored his second goal of the season from open play and fifth overall in injury time last Wednesday to secure a 2-2 draw. He calmly took the header from a pitch-perfect Jamie Smith cross and nodded it into the corner past a helpless Andrew Dykstra in the Chicago Fire goal.
There were no yelps of delight, no fist pumps. The way the Rapids had dominated the second half and the way they have been playing in recent games, they felt that a point was the very least they should be coming away with into the World Cup break.
“It was just relief we ended up coming away with something,” Casey told MLSsoccer.com after Rapids’ training Tuesday. “There was a feeling of, ‘ok, now let’s just get out of here and enjoy the break.’”
Strike partner Omar Cummings said the second 45 minutes of the Chicago game was a real show of determination after a disappointing opening first half, when the Rapids blew the lead despite Cummings’ goal, his first since the home opener against the same opponents April 3.
“It was tough coming into the locker room when we knew we should not have been down 2-1,” Cummings said. “We felt we could have done more to stop the Chicago goals, but we came out with a sense of purpose in that second half.”
Rapids coach Gary Smith congratulated both Cummings and Casey on their goals, and said the muted celebration on Casey’s equalizer did not surprise him.
“We had gone up a goal and the group expected to get points,” Smith said. “There was an expectation that we should be winning the game. Omar did really well to get in front of the defender and guide it into the far post and Conor’s was a very good goal. It keeps our unbeaten run going but it is tinged with some thoughts that it should have been even more.”
Cummings said he had been getting a little frustrated at frequently finding himself in good scoring positions in recent games, but not being able to convert.
Casey said the Chicago game would help boost their partnership.
“It’s good for us both going forward,” he said.
Nevertheless, Smith is clearly delighted at getting ten points from the last four games. “It’s a terrific return and we are looking forward to the Houston game.”
The Rapids return to MLS league action June 26 in Houston.