COMMERCE CITY – A Gyasi Zardes goal from the run of play was a welcome sight Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, but it wasn’t enough to end the Rapids’ winless streak in a 1-1 draw against Orlando City.
Zardes, a midseason acquisition from Columbus, scored his first goal with the club on a penalty kick in a 2-0 win over LAFC in May. He waited seven more matches before scoring his second goal of the season for Colorado.
The wait didn’t impact the approach of Colorado’s designated player.
“He’s unbelievable. He doesn’t change his mentality. He keeps working; he doesn’t shy away,” Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. “There are some guys who miss chances, so they won’t go into the dangerous areas again because they’re afraid to miss again. (He) doesn’t change one bit.”
With Mark-Anthony Kaye, who was recently traded to Toronto FC, and Jack Price still nursing a calf injury, the Rapids started Max in an attacking midfield role ahead of Bryan Acosta and Collen Warner. Ralph Priso, part of the package the Rapids received for Kaye, was available as a substitute but did not feature in the match.
The Rapids finished with a 19-12 edge in shots and 7-4 edge in shots on target, but that wasn’t enough for the club’s first win since May 22.
The first 20 minutes passed without much in the way of scoring opportunities for either side, but Orlando City winger Facundo Torres changed that a couple of minutes later. A long throw-in from the left side made it to the right side of the penalty area, and Torres’s powerful left-footed shot beat Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough, hit the crossbar and ricocheted into the goal.
“Just little things that we need to clean up on the long throw-in,” midfielder Collen Warner said. “Our concentration, our mentality in these moments, we just need to keep increasing that.”
Jonathan Lewis had a chance to equalize less than 10 minutes later, but his shot, following a cross by recent addition Sam Nicholson, hit the post and came back into play. Zardes got his head to the ball near the six-yard box later in the half but was unable to put the attempt on target.
The Rapids finished the first half with eight shots, one more than Orlando, but only put one of those attempts on frame.
Another Zardes header in the first five minutes of the second half went down as Colorado’s second shot on goal, but Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese scrambled to keep the Rapids scoreless.
The third time was the charm for Zardes in the 65th minute. Diego Rubio switched fields just after entering the match as a substitute, finding Michael Barrios on the right flank. Barrios found Zardes running toward the near post, and the striker’s first touch finish left Gallese helpless.
“We can do a better job of getting him better opportunities, better looks, better service,” Rosenberry said.
“There was some really good opportunities tonight for him. We know that if we provide him with those chances, he’s going to score goals. He’s done it throughout his career.”
The Orlando keeper made a couple of saves in the next few minutes, denying Max on a deflection and Diego Rubio’s header to prevent Colorado from taking the lead.
“It has to be said that their goalkeeper was excellent today and made some really, really incredible saves,” Fraser said.
Rosenberry and Zardes had looks at a winner in the final five minutes, but Colorado settled for a draw, stretching a winless streak to six games.
The Rapids will look to end that streak Saturday when they welcome Los Angeles Galaxy to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.