Conor Casey's PK Rescues Rapids In 1-1 Draw

COMMERCE CITY CO (Rapids & MLS reports) - For the third time in the last four matches Conor Casey saved the Colorado Rapids with a penalty kick pulling them into a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
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The penalty kick came in the 58th minute and Casey completely fooled Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis who committed to his right as Casey shot to his left. All of Colorado's goals in their last four matches have come on penalty kicks resulting in four consecutive draws including last week's 0-0 result in Kansas City.
Kheli Dube had given the Revolution the lead in the 29th minute heading home a free kick.
Shortly after the Rapids tied the score the game took another turn as defender Julien Baudet was shown a red card leaving the Rapids a man down for the final half hour.
Most of the pressure was on the Rapids however as they needed to earn at least a point Saturday in their final home match of the season since all their of their active Western Conference rivals won their weekend matches prior to the start of the Rapids match.
Los Angeles leapfrogged into first past idle Houston and Chivas USA and Seattle both moved past Colorado to take a tie for third place two points ahead of the Rapids going into the match.
The Rapids got off to a quick start pressing into New England's back third and forcing a pair of corner kicks in the third minute. Mehdi Ballouchy served the first one up to Drew Moor whose header was deflected out to set up a follow-up corner.
Ballouchy was shown a yellow card in the ninth minute for delaying a restart on a free kick a call he took issue with especially given Colorado's desire for a fast-paced game at home. The card also means Ballouchy will miss the club's next match at Dallas due to caution accumulation.
The Rapids had another good chance in the 15th minute with Kosuke Kimura feeding a ball from wide at midfield and finding Casey at the top of the area. Casey headed the ball at the goal but Reis collected it on the bounce.
In the 23rd minute Colorado had their best opportunity yet with Jordan Harvey passing from the top of the area on the left to Omar Cummings in the middle. Cummings controlled the ball and considered shooting around the flank of defenders facing him but passed back to the right to Nick LaBrocca who blasted at the goal but was unable to find the net.
Harvey broke out in the 25th following an excellent build-up winning the ball at the top of the area beating two defenders and getting a clear shot on goal aiming for the corner but finding Reis in his way.
Dube turned the tide of the game taking a free kick from 36 yards from Kenny Mansally on the left flank and completely unmarked heading it back inside the far post just beyond the reach of Preston Burpo.
The Rapids nearly retaliated in the 32nd with Julien Baudet getting a knee on the ball on a center from Jordan Harvey and hitting the upright before the ball bounced out of play.
Burpo came up with a big save in the 43rd minute diving on a ball heading for the left corner and grabbing it for the save.
LaBrocca sent a beautiful ball into the area in first-half stoppage time and though Casey couldn't get a good shot off it bounced back to Cummings at the top of the area where he unleashed a cannon of a shot that sailed over the crossbar.
Cummings and Shalrie Joseph had a collision in the final moments of firsth half stoppage time with both down for a couple minutes and Joseph a little slower to be helped to his feet and into the locker room. Joseph was reported to have suffered a neck strain but both returned to action in the second half.
The Rapids made one adjustment in that the half bringing Pat Noonan on for Scott Palguta in hopes of adding some offensive pressure. The move returned the Rapids to their customary 4-4-2 formation which they had scrapped in favor of a 3-5-2 the past two weeks with all their wide midfielders out for the season.
Cummings took a pass and sprung for the goal in the 48th taking a shot from wide of the goal and trying to angle around two defenders but ultimately shot wide.
Noonan got into the fray in the 52nd minute after Baudet launched a free kick from midfield into the center and Casey tipped it out but his header couldn't sneak past Reis.
The Rapids followed with another series as Ballouchy passed from the center to LaBrocca on the flank. LaBrocca centered it to Cummings who shot hard without success. Harvey had another shot from close range at the 54th minute but he shot high over the goal.
After Casey converted from the spot for his 16th goal of the season pulling him into a tie with FC Dallas' Jeff Cunningham for the MLS Golden Boot Award and Baudet's ejection Colorado managed to maintain pressure mounting a 66th-minute attack that resulted in two shots on goal.
New England's Mansally took a 70th-minute shot from the left touchline a high ball that took Burpo to the back of the goal line for the save.
Yet the Rapids were back pressing the Revolution in the 72nd minute with Kimura bringing the ball down wide and setting up a nice service only to have it headed out of the area.
Colorado closed ranks with Baudet's departure managing to maintain a tight defense and limit New England's chances after giving up the man advantage. They did retreat to a defensive posture however striving for the full three points in what they have to see as their best shot a winning result with their final two matches on the road.
Still there was one final chance for the home side to snatch the full three points. In the 88th minute Casey sprung Cummings to the left of the goal. Cummings made a near perfect right-footed shot from the corner of the six but caught the crossbar flush as the ball ricocheted back into play.
The Rapids conclude their regular season home schedule with an 8-2-5 record their best since the stadium opened in 2007. Colorado have also earned draws in seven of their last eight regular season home finales.
The Rapids have the weekend off with their final bye Saturday of the season followed by the first of back-to-back road trips to conclude the regular season on Sat. Oct. 17 at FC Dallas.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to
Rapids AT&T Man of the Match: Conor Casey
NE- Dube (Mansally) 29
COL- Casey (penalty kick) 58
New England Revolution: Matt Reis Kevin Alston Darrius Barnes Emmanuel Osei Sainey Nyassi Nico Colaluca (Michael Videira 82) Shalrie Joseph Pat Phelan Amaechi Igwe Kheli Dube Kenny Mansally
Substitutes Not Used: Gabriel Badilla Mauricio Castro Jay Heaps Brad Knighton Jeff Larentowicz Chris Tierney
Colorado Rapids: Preston Burpo Drew Moor Julien Baudet Scott Palguta (Pat Noonan 46) Jordan Harvey Kosuke Kimura Nick LaBrocca Pablo Mastroeni Mehdi Ballouchy Conor Casey (Facundo Diz 88) Omar Cummings
Substitutes Not Used: Steward Ceus Greg Dalby Ty Harden Michael Holody Ross Schunk
COL- Ballouchy (caution; Delaying a Restart) 9
COL- Baudet (ejection; Violent Conduct) 59
NER- Osei (caution; Dissent) 63
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell Eric Boria
Fourth official: Landis Wiley
Attendance: 16535