Badji’s 88th-minute marker delivers draw with NYCFC

A goal from forward Dominique Badji in the 88th minute gave the Colorado Rapids a draw 1-1 against New York City FC on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The Rapids returned from a long, four-game road spell looking to take advantage of their stoppage-time victory at Houston Dynamo last weekend. Interim head coach Steve Cooke would opt for the same starting lineup that saw his team earn the their first road win of 2017.

The scoring was opened in the 19th minute when Andrea Pirlo stole the ball in the center of the park, finding McNamara in a great position to drive to goal. The NYCFC captain stormed forward and launched a stunning shot from distance into the top corner of the goal past an outstretched Tim Howard.

The lead was nearly doubled in the four minutes later, but Pirlo’s free kick would ricochet off the crossbar. Rodney Wallace tried to redirect the rebound, but his attempt would go wide of the mark.

“I think after they scored, we obviously had a little bit more urgency and moved the ball much quicker and played a little higher up field,” Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke said postgame. “As soon as we actually increased the energy of our defending we actually amplified the pace of the passing as well. Pleased with the response, these players always do that. They’re great guys that obviously work extremely hard.”

The Rapids’ best effort of the first half came in the 39th minute when Joshua Gatt made his way quickly down the line, eventually finding a streaking Marlon Hairston at the other end. Hairston cut inside and attempted a shot from distance, forcing a fingertip save from Sean Johnson.

In the 65th minute, the Rapids would make a double substitution in an attempt to get the equalizer. Shkëlzen Gashi and Stefan Aigner replaced Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt, respectively. Ten minutes later, Alan Gordon would come on as the third and final substitution for the home side.

A great build-up play in the attacking end almost saw Gordon tally his third of the season. A cheeky flick from Jared watts fell at Gordon’s feet, but the veteran forward sent his shot straight at Johnson.

Badji would finally take matters into his own hands with two minutes left of regulation. The Senegalese forward laid a hard, left-footed shot across the goal past the NYCFC keeper.

“Badji works so hard, every day he comes into work, he is a top professional,” Cooke said. “He puts his time in before training and he stays late. He works on everything he needs to work on to become a good player and a good professional. As always, if you hit the target you got a great opportunity to score a goal. Badji keeps doing that and now he is a real threat in this league. He’s only 24 so he’s got some good years ahead of him.”

Colorado (7-16-5; 26 points) goes on the road again to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, September 23. Kickoff at BC Place is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. MDT.

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