By TYLER GRAY
The Colorado Rapids hadn’t scored from the run of play in three games this season but midfielder Jose Mari decided to change all that, and in spectacular fashion.
The match was going well for the Vancouver Whitecaps — they were up a goal via Darren Mattocks and playing well when things went sideways in the 77th minute. Matias Laba saw a second yellow, reducing Vancouver to 10 men for the final 15 minutes of the match.
Mari then took control, blasting two beautiful, long-range strikes within two minutes of each other to secure the 2-1 victory for the visiting Rapids.
Mari’s first strike was a thing of beauty. The 26-year-old Spaniard curled a shot with the outside of his left foot from 25 yards out, stinging the inside of the far post and bouncing into the back of the net, leveling the match at 1-1.
His second goal was not nearly as prolific, but it was just as pretty. Rapids midfielder Nathan Sturgis received a cross right at the top of the 18’ and played it back to an eager Mari, who struck the ball with the inside of his right foot. It curled to almost the exact same spot as Mari’s first, giving the Rapids the 2-1 lead and eventual victory.
Laba saw red for a careless mental error on his part in the 77th minute. After falling to the ground as a result of a questionable challenge from Nick Labrocca, Laba reached out and grabbed the ball even as play had not stopped, prompting the referee to blow the whistle and issue the Argentine his second yellow.
Minutes before, Whitecaps midfielder Pedro Morales was inches away from doubling the lead and possibly icing the match when the home side was on a 3-on-1 break. However, Morales’ shot was deflected just enough by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin and the shot went wide.
Vancouver did strike first in the 67th minute when Kenny Miller exhibited some excellent hold-up play, controlling the ball with his head before sending it ahead of a streaking Mattocks. The Jamaican international put his boot through the ball and Irwin was unable to do enough to stop it.
Mental errors and some slack defending, however, did the Whitecaps in and they experienced their first loss of the young season.
The Rapids will feel encouraged from this victory, even though they did have a bit of help. They clawed back from a deficit and got two spectacular goals from the run of play, something they haven’t been able to do all season long.
Next up, the Rapids head to Toronto FC on Saturday while head to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy.
Check out video highlights of the match below: