Everyone got their breath back? The final whistle blew almost 24 hours ago and I can't seem to shake this game out of my mind. The image of Mehdi Ballouchy's fantastic cross onto Conor Casey's outstretched boot in the final minutes of the game remains largely fixed. It was not that the defenses were so poor on both sides. It just seemed that, after a crazy opening ten minutes when three goals were scored, both teams threw caution to the wind and devoted themselves to playing carefree attacking soccer. Even when the Rapids had to pick themselves up off the floor when conceding the equalizer in the 75th minute to make it 4-4, the boys in Burgundy refused to tighten up and continued to go all out for victory. The Red Bulls, God bless them, did the same and it made for a fantastically exciting game culminating in Casey's poke into the corner in injury time.
Honorary mention must of course go to Casey for his fine, aggressive hat-trick but praise also to his partner up front, Omar Cummings, who not only pounced in the second minute to score the opening goal and set the tone for the match but also probably played his best game in a Rapids' shirt. I hope former England star, John Barnes, was watching Cummings in his new role as Jamaican national team coach. In midfield, Nick LaBrocca and Pablo Mastroeni were everywhere. LaBrocca also caused the penalty which Casey converted to equalize at 3-3 and almost scored twice in a minute in the second half. Mastroeni performed his usual heroics defensively and was unfortunate to give the penalty away. The defense, as you might expect with four goals, was maybe not at its best, but two of the goals came from a penalty and a poor backpass. Preston Burpo, and rarely can this be said for a goalkeeper who conceded four, was absolutely heroic in goal, especially in the second half when he came out time and again to pick up the final ball behind or over the defense. This was truly a performance of great heart. Well done boys! With Chivas and Salt Lake both winning, the Western Conference remains as tight as ever with just four games to go. The Rapids return home next week to play conference leaders, Houston, October 4. Kick-off at DSG Park is 7.30pm.