TUCSON, Ariz. (Saturday, March 1, 2014) Edson Buddle netted his first goal of 2014 and Shane O'Neill experienced his first minutes, as the Colorado Rapids wrapped up preseason with a 2-2 draw with New England Revolution in their final match of the Desert Diamond Cup, presented by FC Tucson.
Buddle levelled matters with a poacher's goal just short of the half hour mark, while O'Neill - having shrugged off a hamstring strain, suffered when with the US national team - entered the fray five minutes into the second half.
O'Neill barely had time to find his feet, on a sodden surface, before the Revolution scored their second of the afternoon. Daigo Kobayashi's free-kick was flicked goalwards by the boot of AJ Soares. Rapids keeper Clint Irwin could only block, allowing rookie Patrick Mullins to tap in from close range on 57 minutes.
The Rapids, struggling to battle the breeze in the second half, still had enough to capture a second equalizer eight minutes from time. Gabriel Torres showed the New England defense a clean pair of heels. Substitute keeper Luis Soffner could not hold his shot across goal, allowing Vicente Sánchez to tidy up.
Despite dominating possession in the opening 45 minutes, it was the Revolution who took the lead, with a wonder strike from former Sporting Kansas City player, Teal Bunbury. Finding space on the left-hand edge of the box just five minutes in, Bunbury unleashed an unstoppable drive which Irwin could only watch as it whistled past his outstretched finger-tips.
Bunbury was the main threat in the first half, and ought to have added to his tally, only to stumble when clean through and then mis-cue another chance with just Irwin to beat.
On a slick surface, played under rainy skies and with a swirling wind, both sides took time to adjust to the conditions early on. The Rapids certainly shone at keep-ball, but made little progress going forward. That is until they won a corner kick on the right, delivered by Dillon Serna and thumped goalwards by Dillon Powers. His first-time volley was desperately blocked on the line but it was that moment, midway through the first half, which signalled a shift in gears for the Rapids.
Moments later, a loose ball out of the New England defense was collected by Serna. His darting run ended with a low drive, which keeper Bobby Shuttleworh could only parry, into the grateful path of Edson Buddle, who diverted home from six yards out.
Conditions were far from what the Rapids had been used to during their stay in Tucson. Previously spoilt by clear skies and sunshine, the weather played its part. Surface water was clearly visible midway inside the Rapids half after the break, while the awkward breeze blew straight down their throats, which is why Pablo Mastroeni gave his players credit for never giving up.
"These guys could've turned it in," admitted Mastroeni. "The weather sucked and the wind was against us, but they hung in there and they battled and, at the end of the day, in this league it's not over until the last whistle blows. That was probably the most important aspect of today's game. The ability to stay and fight when the wind's blowing against you and get back into the game is really impressive."
A preseason friendly it may have been, but it was not short on commitment, with the 2014 MLS regular season just a week away. Indeed, both teams ended the game with ten men. Marvin Chávez and Dimitry Imbongo both saw red five minutes before the end following a coming together.
The Rapids return to Denver on Sunday, concluding their preseason with a 4-2-2 (W-L-T) record. They open the season on March 15 with a trip to New York Red Bulls.
COLORADO RAPIDS 2:2 NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Preseason Exhibition – Kino Sports Complex; Tucson, Ariz.
NE – Teal Bunbury (unassisted) 5’
COL – Edson Buddle (Dillon Serna) 25’
NE – Patrick Mullins (unassisted) 58’
COL – Vicente Sánchez (Gabriel Torres) 82’
Colorado Rapids: Clint Irwin (John Berner 81’); Nathan Sturgis (Shane O’Neill 50’), Drew Moor (Jared Watts 72’), Marvell Wynne (Grant Van De Casteele 72’), Chris Klute (Albert Edward 72’); José Mari (Juan Guzman 72’), Nick LaBrocca (Marlon Hairston 72’); Dillon Serna (Marvin Chávez 72’), Dillon Powers (Vicente Sánchez 46’), Kamani Hill (Charles Eloundou 72’); Edson Buddle (Gabriel Torres 56’)
New England Revolution: Bobby Shuttleworth (Luis Soffner 79), Donnie Smith, A.J. Soares (Stephen McCarthy 66), Darrius Barnes (O’Brian Woodbine 66), Kevin Alston (Jossimar Sanchez 66), Scott Caldwell (Paulo DelPiccolo 66), Diego Fagundez (Dimitry Imbongo 66), Daigo Kobayashi (Steve Neumann 66), Kelyn Rowe (Alec Sundly 66), Patrick Mullins (Charlie Davies 59, Pierre Omanga 78), Teal Bunbury (Jerry Bengtson 66)
COL – Nick LaBrocca (yellow card) 35’
NE – Kelyn Rowe (yellow card) 38’
COL – José Mari (yellow card) 55’
NE – Dimitry Imbongo (red card) 85’
COL – Marvin Chávez (red card) 85’
COLORADO RAPIDS – PRESEASON MATCHES 2014
DAY DATE OPPONENT (LOCATION) RESULT (SCORERS)
Sun, Feb 2: Houston Dynamo (Houston, TX) W, 3-2 (Serna, Brown, Torres)
Thu, Feb 6: Houston Baptist University (Houston, TX) W, 3-0 (Brown, Serna, Galindo)
Fri, Feb 14: UNLV (Las Vegas, NV) W, 2-0 (Chávez, Sánchez)
Sun, Feb 16: Chivas USA (Las Vegas, NV)^ L, 2-1 (Brown)
Wed, Feb 19: Chicago Fire (Tucson, AZ)# L, 2-1 (Torres)
Sat, Feb 22: Real Salt Lake (Tucson, AZ)# W, 1-0 (Brown)
Wed, Feb 26: Chivas USA (Tucson, AZ)# T, 0-0
Sat, Mar 1: New England Revolution (Tucson, AZ)# T, 2-2 (Buddle, Sánchez)
^Las Vegas ProSoccerChallenge
Desert Diamond Cup presented by FC Tucson