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A controversial penalty decided a chippy contest at a rain-soaked Providence Park on Sunday afternoon, as the Colorado Rapids slipped to their first defeat in seven games, and slid back to second in the nail-biting chase for the Supporters’ Shield.


The 1-0 loss, coupled with a come-from-behind 2-1 home win for FC Dallas over Seattle Sounders FC, means that the team from Texas leads the race for the Shield by two points with just one round of matches remaining.

Colorado host Houston Dynamo next Sunday in their final match of the regular season, with FC Dallas heading to LA Galaxy. For the Rapids to claim their first-ever Supporters’ Shield, they need to beat the Dynamo, and hope the Galaxy do them a favor by defeating FC Dallas.

Fanendo Adi sent Tim Howard the wrong way from the spot on 35 minutes. The penalty was awarded by referee Silviu Petrescu amid a chaotic scene in the area. With the ball pinging about inside the box, Bobby Burling appeared to claim the ball in a challenge with Vytas Andriuškevičius, only for the referee to point to the spot.

Less than four minutes later, and a more clear-cut penalty was awarded, with Micheal Azira tugging back on the jersey of Andriuškevičius. This time, Howard chose the right way to block, before Adi somehow shinned the rebound well wide of the target.

Out-of-sorts in the first half, the Rapids were the better team after the interval. Kevin Doyle put a header against the crossbar. The Irishman also hit the base of the post. On both occasions goalkeeper Jake Gleeson was beaten. Sam Cronin, returning to the side after serving a one-game suspension, forced a fine finger-tip save from Gleeson with a drive from the edge of the area.

Needing victory to keep alive hopes of making the playoffs, the Timbers sat deeper and deeper as the game wore on, making it difficult for the Rapids to carve out too many opportunities down the stretch.

On a gray day in Portland, playing their third game in eight days, the Rapids came up short, and are no longer in control of their own destiny so far as the Supporters’ Shield is concerned. The Shield was inside Providence Park on Sunday. The Rapids will hope it can still find its way to Colorado.