Aigner scores again, Rapids draw with FC Dallas

A tightly contested match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park resulted in a 1-1 draw between the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas on Saturday night.

German winger Stefan Aigner tallied his second goal in as many matches to give the Rapids the early lead, but former Colorado defender Atiba Harris leveled the game nine minutes into the second half, splitting the points for the second time this season.

The Rapids’ first chance came six minutes into the match when Aigner sent a well-placed corner kick into the heart of the box, finding the head of Axel Sjöberg. The Swedish defender’s attempt was cleared out of danger after bouncing off the post following a slight deflection by Matt Hedges.

The home side would break through in the 15th minute, when Aigner sent his shot past Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, capping off a smooth give-and-go between with him and midfielder Joshua Gatt.

“It was just a great play, if you look through it,” Gatt said, “we broke the lines and we attacked aggressively. I got the ball out wide and I heard him yell and I was able to pick my head up and see him make that run near post. I just tried to slot it to the best position to give him a chance, he did excellent with it and finished it well.”

FC Dallas brought their first effort on goal through Roland Lamah. After moving the ball into open space at the top of the box, the Ivorian forward fired a low shot towards the corner of the goal, but Rapids keeper Zac MacMath was there to push it away.

Colorado nearly doubled the lead in the 32nd minute when Alan Gordon received an Aigner cross, but his powerful left-footed strike on goal was met by a strong hand from Gonzalez.

“FC Dallas is a very good attacking team and they’re a quick attacking team,” Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke said after the match. “Not only do they have good technical players on the ball but they also have the pace to get behind it pretty quickly and threaten behind the back four as well as play good football in front of the back four. Tonight, we handled that very well and early in the game and late in the game we were always a threat on the counter attack. I think one player who deserves a lot of credit is Alan Gordon, he was in the game and made a big impact to hold the ball up and allow those quicker players to get forwards behind him. I was disappointed he didn’t get that goal.”

The second half began with another miraculous save by Gonzalez, keeping his team in the match. Aigner lobbed a cross to the back post where Gordon was ready to meet it with his head. The forward hit it across the face of goal but the Dallas keeper made finger-tip contact, denying Gordon for the second time on the night.

The equalizer would come in the 54th minute after the referee awarded Dallas a questionable corner kick. Javier Morales sent in an out-swinging ball that was met by Harris, who hammered the ball down and in to the back of the net.

“It was kind of a strange game I think,” Harris said, “from the get-go we knew exactly what we wanted to do. We got the ball long and some guys tried to get the second ball but then they got the goal. Overall, I think we had a lot of possession, created some chances up front but we couldn’t get the final touch in. We got a goal on the set piece and I think we’ll take the point.”

The remainder of the game was played out with both teams sharing possession but neither side was able to take home all three points. The Rapids play their final regular season home game of the 2017 season on Sunday, Oct. 15 against Real Salt Lake. Kickoff at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MDT.

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