Badji goal secures valuable road point to start second half of Rapids season

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Thanks to a brilliant individual effort by Dominique Badji on the Rapids’ lone goal Saturday night against Toronto FC, Colorado secured their first road point of the 2017 season.

The road has not treated the Rapids well this year. Before Saturday’s game, they had lost all seven games and mustered only two goals away from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. They took a step toward bucking that trend Saturday and gained some positive momentum to start the second half of the 2017 campaign after a season-long 18 days off.

Whether it was lethargy or the time off, the Rapids were woefully outplayed in the first half. They conceded Jay Chapman’s first MLS goal five minutes in and rarely possessed the ball for the remainder of the half, which ended with the possession stat in Toronto’s favor (60 percent).

When the Rapids did possess the ball, they spent their time passing it along the back line trying to figure out a way to break down Toronto’s dense midfield defense, and struggled to even get the ball in the attacking third. Things looked dour for the team heading into the half.

A different squad emerged from the locker room at half. Whether it was Pablo Mastroeni injecting some verbal motivation or inner resolve, the Rapids came out the aggressor in the second half. The possession stats confirm it, but opportunities were still sparse for the team. Other than a few docile looking crosses, nothing troubled Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin, that is until Badji’s goal.

In the 76th minute, Alan Gordon corralled a loose ball produced from a deflection by Mohammed Saeid, turned and found Badji on the top of the right side of the box. Badji had three defenders and a keeper between him and the net, but he casually pushed the ball to his left to get more centered, and let off a low, left-footed shot just inside of the right post.

The game went back-and-forth for the remainder, but eventually the Rapids held on for the the tie.

While all of their problems are not solved, it’s a step in the right direction for Colorado. At first glance, the tie may seem more impressive than it really is. They went into the 2016 MLS Cup runner-up’s house, a place where Toronto hasn’t lost all season, and got a 1-1 tie. However, one must keep in mind that this was a Toronto team without three of its best players. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Anthony Morrow are all away on international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Tim Howard was absent from the Rapids for the same reason.

Still, it’s a momentum-builder for the Rapids, and one they’ll need if they’re to hang on to their slim playoff hopes. They currently sit in second-to-last place in the Western Conference with 20 points in 19 games and have 10 of their remaining 16 games on the dreaded road. The good news is that they have at least one game on all but three teams in the conference, so if they achieve a streak of good results, they have more games to gain more points. As it stands, the Rapids are seven points behind the team with the last seed in the playoffs.

The Rapids next opportunity is a Western Conference battle on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 29. San Jose is currently just beneath the playoff line, so it’s a great chance to directly gain points on a team in a better position than the Rapids. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. MDT.

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