COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Considering the turbulence Minnesota United FC endured en route to its first-ever point in Major League Soccer, the players were pretty restrained after drawing 2-2 at the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
When the final whistle sounded, after 25 minutes playing a man down while trying to preserve the tie, the Loons did the usual shaking hands with opponents and clapping to the small contingent of fans who made the trip from Minnesota. With the first two matches coming in at a combined 11-2 loss, maybe a little more celebration would have been merited.
Was altitude the cause of the subdued reaction? “I know I started seeing stars at one point,” forward Christian Ramirez said.
Ramirez, whose diving header in the 58th minute gave Untied its first MLS lead, said the draw almost felt “like a win.” After going down a goal in the 17th minute, equalizing and gaining the lead early in the second half, letting the lead slip a minute after taking it and then going down to 10 men for the last 25 minutes after a red card to left -back Justin Davis, that comparison seems worthy.
“I can’t praise the players enough for their attitude,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “They dug in. The last 20 minutes were tough. It’s not easy with 11 players here, you look at their home record.”
Colorado hasn’t lost at home in 19 regular-season matches, dating to the beginning of last season.
Ramirez and midfielder Kevin Molino both scored their second goals as United players, Molino’s being his second penalty kick in as many matches scored in the 50th minute. Midfielder Dominique Badji scored Colorado’s first goal after an intercepted back pass by the Loons. Midfielder Marlon Hairston scored the quick equalizer after Ramirez’s goal, preserving his team’s home streak.
Hairston was also involved in Davis’ 70th minute red card, as he went down after a challenge from the defender.
“I thought he mis-controlled it, and he just went for the ball,” Heath said. “The referee didn’t even give a foul. So to then suddenly be a red card was disappointing. But hey, we haven’t had many good decisions go our way since we started.”
United has 24 hours after the conclusion of the match to appeal the red card, according to league rules. A suspension to Davis for next week’s match at New England would deplete the Loons further, as Francisco Calvo, Rasmus Schuller, Molino and Johan Venegas will all be on national team duty and injured starting goalkeeper John Alvbage could still be out.
But Heath shuffled his lineup against Colorado with some success.
“That was something we talked about is using the momentum for this game,” said center back Brent Kallman, who made his MLS debut Saturday, “carrying it through the week and then taking it into the New England game.”