Thriller in the Chiller: Colorado Rapids, Portland Timbers play out nail-biter in coldest game in MLS history

Colorado Rapids, Leagues, Major League Soccer, Portland Timbers, Story

Andre Shinyashiki scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to rally the 10-man Colorado Rapids to a 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers in the MLS opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon at windy and snowy Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.

With a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff and a field covered by snow as the game progressed, MLS have confirmed that Saturday’s season opener was the coldest recorded temperature for a match in league history. The previous mark of 19 degrees was set by Minnesota United’s franchise opener on March 12, 2017.

“I’m from Brazil so growing up, I did not experience this weather, but at [Denver University] there were a couple of times it got this cold, maybe not as snowy as it did here, but definitely this cold I’ve played in before so, just kind of used to it,” Shinyashiki said.

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The game was played while snow fell and covered the field. MLS said it was the 13th “snow game” in league history, and six of those have been in Colorado.

“It was crazy, it felt like I was back in fifth grade playing tackle football on a snow day, so it didn’t even feel like a real game,” said Rapids midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

The steady snowfall began right before kickoff and covered the field before half-time. The game was stopped on several occasions so that snow could be shoveled off the lines.

Shinyashiki’s leveller came after Dillon Serna‘s curling shot from the left side of the box was stopped by Portland goalie Jeff Attinella. The ball caromed to a wide-open Shinyashiki, who tapped in the rebound.

Kei Kamara and Feilhaber also scored goals for Colorado, which played the final 63 minutes with 10 men after defender Axel Sjoberg was red-carded for a hand ball inside the goal box. Tim Howard, who announced in January that he would retire after this season, finished with five saves.

Diego Valeri had a goal and an assist and Sebastian Blanco also scored a goal for the Timbers, who had taken a 3-2 lead on an own goal by Deklan Wynne. Attinella had three saves.

Kamara, who tied Sebastian Giovinco for the MLS goal scoring lead with 22 for the Columbus Crew in 2015, wasted little time finding the net in his Colorado debut, tapping in a crossing pass from Kellyn Acosta from the right side of the six-yard box in the 16th minute to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead.

But Sjoberg was sent off just nine minutes later when he extended his arm while diving on the ground trying to block a Larrys Mabiala shot. Valeri then attempted the ensuing penalty shot, which Howard made a diving save on, but the rebound went directly into the path of Valeri, who easily tapped it in.

Portland then took a 2-1 advantage in stoppage time just before halftime when Valeri’s corner kick grazed off the shoulder of Blanco and inside the far post.

With defenders slipping and sliding over the snowy field, Feilhaber tied it in the 46th minute, following his blocked shot just inside the penalty box, as he booted a right-footed shot inside the left post.

Portland then regained the lead, 3-2, in the 66th minute when Andy Polo‘s cross from the right side of the box was redirected inside the near post by sliding Rapids’ defender Wynne for an own goal.

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