A sublime second-half goal from striker Dominique Badji and a late Alan Gordon header proved enough to give the Colorado Rapids a well-deserved three points on Saturday night, downing the Portland Timbers at home, 2-1, in front of 15,461 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
A tremendously entertaining affair throughout, it was Gordon’s 89th-minute goal – his second as a Rapid – that proved the difference as Pablo Mastroeni’s men earned their third consecutive victory to continue their ascent up the Western Conference standings.
“It was a great ball,” Gordon said of the feed from Marlon Hairston that produced the game-winner. “I was just trying to get in the box and be dangerous. It takes a ball like that for a goal. Marlon did most of the work, I was just trying to get it on target and luckily it went in. ”
The Rapids were forced to come from behind, however, after the Timbers took a 1-0 lead in the game’s early stages after midfielder Sebastian Blanco curled his 18th-minute effort past Rapids keeper Tim Howard. Blanco then nearly doubled his tally, only to be denied by a sprawling Howard who did well to push the Argentine’s shot wide of frame.
Down a goal at the start of the second stanza, the home side came roaring to life in the 51st-minute when Rapids playmaker Kevin Doyle dropped deep to collect the ball in his own half and played a perfectly-weighted through-ball to Dominique Badji who showed calm under pressure to chip Timbers’ keeper Jake Gleeson and level the score.
“We talked about it in the locker room,” defender Kortne Ford about the fans’ impact in the second half. “It was just a matter of time before we got one, and once we got that first one, we knew we were going to get the second. That’s what we did tonight, awesome to have the fans behind us – that’s why we play.”
Undeterred, the Timbers continued to apply pressure on the Rapids back line, continually finding forward Fanendo Adi in dangerous spaces. After putting an early second-half effort wide from just outside the six, Adi came close again in the in the 52nd-minute only to see his shot narrowly deflected wide courtesy of Rapids centerback, Kortne Ford – who played well throughout.
It was the Rapids who then nearly took the lead in the 59th-minute as Marlon Hairston’s cross found the head of Doyle, whose far-post header look destined for the back of the not, if not for Gleeson’s acrobatic save.
Doyle would come close again in the 74th-minute, driving a low shot across the face of goal that was parried away. Then, just minutes later, it was the Irish international who again brought the fans to their feet as his 30-yard drive fizzed inches wide of Gleeson’s far post.
In the end though, it was Alan Gordon who provided the winner, heading home a cross from HealthONE Man of the Match, Mohammed Saeid, in the 89th-minute to secure maximum points and send the home faithful in to a frenzy.
“It’s that psychological advantage that he brings to the game that manifests into reality somehow,” Mastroeni said of Gordon. “Everyone knows that when he’s on the field, we have to get crosses in the box. He sacrifices his body on every play, especially in front of goal. He’s been a real catalyst these last few games along with the mentality that he brings, which is that fighting spirit which fits perfectly with the rest of the group.”
The Rapids (5-8-1; 16 points) now sit in 10th-place in the Western Conference ahead of Wednesday’s clash with the 8th-place LA Galaxy. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. MT (Altitude) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.