VANCOUVER, BC – The tide sure can turn in an instant.
10-men Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9W-14L-8D) earned a 3-3 draw versus Colorado Rapids (12W-5L-12D) in a back-and-forth affair at BC Place. Kendall Waston was sent off and gave up a penalty kick just minutes after scoring himself and Erik Hurtado found the equalizer on the very final play just when the Rapids thought they were about to escape with a win on Saturday afternoon.
Shkelzen Gashi recorded the brace for Colorado, including a scorching direct free kick from about 30 yards.
It was a reversal of fortune from the last time the two sides met in Vancouver on July 9, when the Rapids escaped with a late equalizer after being reduced to 10 men also in the second half.
Head coach Carl Robinson made two changes to his starting XI from last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat in Seattle, inserting Giles Barnes and Alphonso Davies, who at 15 years and 327 days became the second youngest player in history to start an MLS match.
The changes paid dividends for the ‘Caps but it was the Rapids who started the game on the front foot.
Colorado opened the scoring in the eighth minute, triggered by a long ball over the top from Sam Cronin to Marlon Hairston, who settled the ball down and eluded a diving David Ousted, before serving it up for Dominique Badji’s 18-yard strike into the empty net.
The visitors nearly doubled the advantage just six minutes later but Miller’s header off a Gashi corner found the crossbar.
The ‘Caps attack got going late in the first half, testing Tim Howard with a pair of shots from the left side from Barnes and Christian Bolaños, but the goalkeeper got both gloves on each attempt to keep the score at 1-0 going into halftime.
It was after intermission that things really picked up.
First it was Waston, knotting the match at 1-1 when he converted on a Bolaños corner, heading in his third goal on the season and his second against Howard this year.
Just five minutes later, the Costa Rican centre back was shown a straight red card after taking down Badji, and denying the Rapids forward a scoring opportunity, which was ruled inside the box. Gashi converted the penalty kick to put Colorado ahead 2-1.
Whitecaps FC answered on 70 minutes when Barnes worked his way down the left side, and drew in the Colorado defence, before setting up Pedro Morales for his team-leading seventh goal on the season.
However, Gashi was not done. Teeing up on a free kick, the Albanian forward curved in a beauty around the ‘Caps wall and into the top-left corner for the 3-2 lead.
The ‘Caps pressed on in the dying minutes, as Nicolás Mezquida came on and forced Howard to make a full-stretch fingertip save.
Whitecaps FC would keep clawing and were rewarded when Hurtado headed in a deflected cross from Jordan Harvey, bouncing it off the bottom of the crossbar onto the back of defender Marc Burch and into the net for the equalizer three minutes into added time.
Hurtado finished the afternoon with a goal and an assist, and has now scored in three of his last four appearances across all competitions.
With the point, Vancouver are now tied with Seattle Sounders FC for seventh place in the Western Conference, and five points behind Sporting Kansas City for the final playoff spot. Both Kansas City and Seattle are on the road this weekend, with SKC visiting San Jose Earthquakes tonight, and the Sounders facing LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon.
Whitecaps FC now turn their attention to the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, September 28. Having already qualified for the next round, their seeding in the eight-team quarter-finals will be determined by their group stage record, which closes out with the midweek fixture against Central FC at BC Place. Kickoff is at7 p.m
The ‘Caps resume their upstream battle to make the MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday, October 2 when they host Sounders FC. The derby game kicks off at 5 p.m. at BC Place.
MCMILLAN ‘CAPS CORNER KICK DONATIONS
For every ‘Caps corner kick at home, McMillan donates $100 to the United Way. An additional $500 is donated for every goal scored off a corner kick. This match McMillan Corners for Kids has donated $1,400 for a running total of $12,100.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Giles Barnes
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
8′ – COL – Dominique Badji (Marlon Hairston, Sam Cronin)
51′ – VAN – Kendall Waston (Christian Bolaños)
57′ – COL – Shkelzen Gashi (Penalty kick)
70′ – VAN – Pedro Morales (Giles Barnes, Erik Hurtado)
75′ – COL – Shkelzen Gashi
90’+3′ – VAN – Erik Hurtado
Possession: Vancouver 48.7% – Colorado 51.3%
Shots: Vancouver 16 – Colorado 10
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 6 – Colorado 4
Saves: Vancouver 1 – Colorado 3
Fouls: Vancouver 13 – Colorado 12
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – Colorado 2
Corners: Vancouver 9 – Colorado 2
39′ – COL – Michael Azira
74′ – VAN – Jordan Harvey
77′ – VAN – Matías Laba
87′ – COL – Dominique Badji
56′ – VAN – Kendall Waston
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 6.Jordan Smith (26.Tim Parker 59′), 18.David Edgar, 4.Kendall Waston, 2.Jordan Harvey; 7.Christian Bolaños (17.Andrew Jacobson 64′), 15.Matías Laba (11.Nicolás Mezquida 84′), 77.Pedro Morales ©, 67.Alphonso Davies; 28.Giles Barnes, 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 9.Masato Kudo, 13.Cristian Techera, 27.Blas Pérez
1.Tim Howard; 33.Jared Watts, 4.Marc Burch, 44.Axel Sjoberg, 3.Eric Miller; 94.Marlon Hairston (7.Sebastien LeToux 81′), 8.Dillon Powers (10.Marco Pappa 86′); 11.Shkelzen Gashi (5.Mekeil Williams 89′), 22.Michael Azira, 6.Sam Cronin ©; 14.Dominique Badji
Substitutes not used
18.Zac MacMath, 16.Zach Pfeffer, 26.Dennis Castillo, 29.Caleb Calvert