Mar 22, 2014; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Vicente Sanchez (7) trips over Portland Timbers goalkeeper Andrew Weber (33) in the second half at Dick
70 minutes of uneventful game action is a very, very long time in soccer. Especially if you were one of the folks in attendance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the temperature continued to drop throughout the evening, leading to snowfall at points throughout the game. Just as they were starting to lose the feelings in their fingers and toes, fireworks began as both of the keepers of the Portland Timbers made grave errors that cost them two penalty kicks, both which led to goals for the men in maroon.
Throughout the MLS season, I know there’s going to be some games that are a tough watch; weather conditions, injuries, or teams just being out of form will all contribute to this. But unfortunately for the people in the stands and watching at home, all three were at work tonight. The weather was uncooperative, with snow plows being needed to clear the field just an hour before kickoff. The Rapids were dealing with three key injuries with Clint Irwin, Danny Mwanga, and Brian Mullan. The Timbers haven’t had all their pieces come together yet. This all led to a dull first half and mostly second half that, frankly, was akin to taking medicine.
But in the 68th minute of the match, major drama occurred when midfielder Deshorn Brown came in one-on-one with keeper Dominic Ricketts. As the ball came in off of a pass, it bounced in front of Brown, and Ricketts tried to stick up his foot and deflect it away. However, he ended up burying it into Brown’s chest instead. Not only did this cause injury to Ricketts and get him carted off the field, but it also nabbed him a red card. Andrew Weber came in for Diego Valeri to try to stop the penalty kick, but Vincent Sanchez shot it right down the middle of the goal as Weber dove away from it, putting the Rapids up by one in the 73rd minute.
A single, solitary minute later, as Sanchez comes in for a chance on net, Weber comes out to challenge and ends up swiping at Sanchez’s legs with both arms. Luckily for Weber and the Timbers, it’s only a yellow card this time, but another penalty kick is awarded to the Rapids. Sanchez, still shaken up by the foul, can’t take the penalty, so Brown steps in and buries it to make it 2-0 in the 75th minute.
And that’s basically it. Literally, in the span of 7 minutes, almost all of the major action in this game happened. The only other event of note is Jose Mari getting sent off the field in the 90th minute after collecting his second yellow card of the match.
Even though it’s tough to pick an UGH Award winner for this match (Unsung Game Hero), I was able to find one anyway in Steve Zakuani. Not for his on-field performance (he was constantly offside) but for his tenacity off of it. This is a guy who suffered a broken leg and a sports hernia in the span of only a few years, and he is still able to crack the lineup of a team that is incredibly deep at the midfield position. It’s incredibly gutsy to be able to come back to playing a professional sport from rehabbing a broken leg and getting TWO operations done on a sports hernia, so he nabs the UGH this week.