How on Earth did the Rapids leave Chicago without at least a point?
Four good chances – not half-chances – good chances, plus a disallowed goal, and yet the Rapids returned to Denver with nothing.
Chicago won 2-1, and also had a Mike Magee effort ruled out for offside – rightly so, though an aggrieved Magee felt his view needed to be heard … and heard again.
And, though not a fan of the MLS Disciplinary Committee reviewing incidents dealt with by the ref, I’m all for them reviewing what is seemingly missed, and Magee’s moaning post-disallowed goal falls into that category.
Miss: Chicago GK denies Castrillon
I’m no lip-reading expert, but I’m pretty sure his ‘advice’ to the assistant – witnessed by the TV audience – was not complimentary.
In Magee’s defense, things get said in the heat of battle and he’s clearly a competitor who felt wronged.
But rewind to last Saturday, and Rapids coach Oscar Pareja dared enter the field of play – not to remonstrate with a match official, or confront an opposition player. No, Pareja had the temerity to want to calm a tense situation involving one of his own players.
And his ‘reward’ for seeking to bring his players to order was a touchline ban from the Disciplinary Committee.
I’m being flippant, of course, because the decision to condemn Pareja to the stands in Chicago was nothing short of farcical.
Miss: Cascio somehow hits the post
The alternative was for Pareja to watch from 10 feet away and do nothing, which are hardly the actions of a responsible head coach.
In the English Premier League, clubs can be fined for ‘failing to control their players.' The message being sent out by MLS is ‘don’t even try to control your players … if it means stepping out of your technical area.'
So, the Rapids head coach looked on in Chicago as his side – not for the first time this season – struggled to hang on to a lead.
Chicago defender Austin Berry made amends, but he clearly hadn’t done his homework on the pace of Deshorn Brown, otherwise he wouldn’t have allowed his pocket to be picked so easily 17 minutes in.
The Fire equalizer, just six minutes later, came courtesy of a cutely executed penalty from Magee. The penalty, though, was softly given away. Marvell Wynne dived in, when standing his ground would’ve been a better option.
And Berry’s headed winner, less than two minutes after the interval, had a row of three Fire players clearly offside, including the goal scorer.
Miss: Buddle hits the post
Which brings me to my next observation … what in the world are the assistant referees supposed to be doing?
The same one who failed to flag on Berry’s goal was also motionless when substitute German Mera put in a firm challenge by the touchline, for which he got booked. Fire coach Frank Klopas got caught in the follow-through, which may explain why he felt it necessary to bark in the direction of the ref, at what he felt was a reckless foul. The 4th Official got involved and – despite both the assistant and the match referee being in the vicinity – seemed to be the one influencing the decision.
Up to that point, the ref had put in a decent shift, so I’ll allow him that one, but I’m at a loss as to why he couldn’t make the call when only a matter of yards away.
All of this is maybe masking my real frustration from Wednesday night, which was the Rapids inability to convert their glorious chances.
Miss: Rivero misses target from close range
Jaime Castrillon, Martin Rivero, Edson Buddle and Tony Cascio will – like the rest of us – be left to wonder.
Castrillon put his close range header straight at the keeper. Had he converted, the Rapids would’ve gone in 2-1 up at half-time.
Rivero should’ve at least hit the target from 15 yards out.
Buddle blasted against the upright, whilst Cascio crashed a late effort onto the outside of the same post.
No disrespect, but Chicago were not a great side, and they’ll know they sneaked that one.
The same with San Jose last weekend. A struggling side, whose job was made easier by a Rapids mixture of ill-discipline, a sluggish start, lack of intensity and poor defending.
Pareja is right to be concerned at the goals being leaked in recent weeks – two conceded in each of the last three games.
The Rapids will have their bite back in Portland this weekend, with the return of hard-man midfielder Hendry Thomas. The ‘protector’ was sorely missed in Chicago.
The Rapids need to get their mojo back as well. Two defeats in a row, and the manner of those defeats, should serve as a mid-season wake-up call.
Whilst bitterly frustrating, the side should not lose sight of what went before – one defeat in 10.
Portland up next – a Portland side unbeaten in 14. Let’s go burst that particular bubble …