Gyasi Zardes breaks scoreless drought as Rapids draw Orlando City

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids hosted Orlando City on Wednesday night. It was the second game in a three game week for both sides. Colorado rotated Steven Beitashour and Collen Warner in while Orlando gave Alexandre Pato a rare start, playing him behind Tesho Akindele. Gyasi Zardes started with Diego Rubio on the bench.

Gyasi Zardes breaks scoreless drought as Rapids draw Orlando

The first half was a professional performance from the visitors. They controlled play for the opening 25 minutes, leading to a goal in the 22nd. It was a long throw in that took two deflections. Pato eventually tipped it back to Facundo Torres who shot the ball off the underside of the bar and in. The marking was poor by Colorado with Lalas Abubakar appearing to mark no one.

Colorado had a few looks in transition, but asserted themselves after going down a goal. Zardes again had the best chance on a header off a corner in the 34th minute but put it over the bar. Robin Fraser’s side had the intensity but they did not execute. The passes were off, leading to turnovers. Players were clearly frustrated and not on the same page.

OCSC goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made a great save in the opening minutes of the second half. Sam Nicholson crossed a ball to the back post for Zardes who headed it down, but Gallese was there to make the point-blank save. Colorado huffed and puffed, finally scoring in the 65th minute.

Michael Barrios ran down a long ball then put it to the near post. Zardes made the run then went to ground reaching for the ball, putting it far top corner to make it 1-1. They proceeded to swarm the Orlando goal. Rubio had a chance off a header. Orlando snuffed out several passes to Zardes close to goal.

Orlando had a great chance on a free kick in the 83rd minute. Colorado appears confused positionally. They took their time and played it short, but Robin Jansson put the ball into the side of the wall. The match ended 1-1.

Three Key Takeaways:

Draws can only feel like wins for so long: Given they went down a goal, this is a draw that in a vacuum feels like a win. But so was last Saturday’s draw against RSL. At some point Colorado needs to win games to make the playoffs, especially when they produced over 2.0 expected goals and Orlando did not get to 1.0. They’re getting better but still have a ways to go.

“At this point in the year, disappointing to lose the two points rather than taking one. With the chances we had, it feels like points dropped,” Keegan Rosenberry said post game.

Orlando meanwhile, got another professional point on the road. If they start winning home games consistently, their road form will be good enough.

But Gyasi Zardes breaks his drought. That had to feel good: It was his first goal from the run of play for the club. It was his first goal for the first team since LAFC back in May. He’d gotten chances and finally finished one.

“He doesn’t change his mentality. Whether things are going great, aren’t going great, he doesn’t change. Works incredibly hard to get open. If we keep creating chances, he’s going to score goals,” Rapids coach said of the striker post game.

Pragmatic under the radar Orlando: Oscaro Pareja is probably content with this result and where his team’s at. They’re cruising under the radar in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The conservative game plan earned a point. Take it and regroup for Atlanta on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.