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Mac attacks in CCL thriller

August 17, 2011 | 10:29 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Quincy Amarikwa rises above a Isidro Metapan defender during second half action of the CCL opener on Wednesday night. (Photograph by Jessica Taves/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

Isidro Metapan and the Colorado Rapids combined for five goals on Wednesday night, but it was a brace from Macoumba Kandji that made the difference in the home side’s first CONCACAF Champions League match.

Kandji’s goals, in the 16th minute and first-half stoppage time, rescued a discombobulated Rapids side and paved the way for Andre Akpan’s second half winner at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Their three goals led the way to a 3-2 Colorado win over the visitors from El Salvador.

Kandji’s strikes, the first off the head and the other from the floor, came after the Salvadoran side diced the mixture of veterans and benchwarmers on the field for the Rapids.

Colorado fans deemed the CCL game a nonstarter — staying away in droves — and the Rapids seemed to endorse that decision with a series of first-half gaffes.

The first came in the opening seconds of the match as Metapan managed to draw a penalty kick on a play that was last successfully used in a seventh-grade rec league game. Metapan sent a runner, Cristian Bautista, from the right wing into the penalty area where a diagonal ball arrived at the same time that defender Drew Moor put his arm on Bautista. Down went the forward, and up came the yellow card for Moor.

Matt Pickens guessed wrong on the PK, and Metapan held a 1-0 lead through an Allen Kardeck goal with more than 88 minutes showing on the game clock.

The strike seemed to awaken Colorado, which controlled play and found a reward when Kandji drove a Scott Palguta cross down and into the goal 14 minutes later.

The Rapids, however, were not done making mistakes. Pickens made an exceptionally ill-advised pass that was returned as a chip into the far netting in the 25th minute by Paolo Suarez. Pickens, who had gone down in a collision, tossed the ball toward Kosuke Kimura, but Suarez raced to it first, and made the lanky ‘keeper pay.

Again, Colorado started dominating possession, a position helped along by the ejection of Kardeck shortly before half for a swing into Moor on a El Salvadoran counter attack. Up by a man, Colorado kept probing and Kandji was on the end of a play to nick the ball into the goal and bring the teams level on the scoreline at half.

Colorado Rapids Andre Akpan (top), celebrates with Macoumba Kandji, after Kandji scores the second goal of the night during the CCL opener, Aug. 17. (Photograph by Jessica Taves/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

Colorado finally took advantage of the man advantage when Kandji faked out a defender, passed to Wells Thompson, who deflected a ball to Andre Akpan in the 51st minute. The Ivy Leaguer, who picked up an assist on Kandji’s second goal, delivered a clinical finish that provided the winning margin.

Next Up: The Colorado Rapids face Chivas USA, one of the teams chasing them for a playoff spot, in MLS action on Saturday. The next CCL match at home will be Sept. 13 at home against Mexican side Santos Laguna. Laguna beat Real Espana of Honduras 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Bracing Brace: Wednesday night was the first meaningful soccer action for Kandji since his cross led to the game-deciding own goal in Colorado’s 2-1 win over FC Dallas in the 2010 MLS Cup Championship in November. Kandji tore his right ACL on the cross and has yet to appear in an MLS match this season.

Prior to Wednesday night, Kandji had never scored more than one goal in a Rapids uniform.

Miraculous Montes: Metapan ‘keeper Miguel Montes had several excellent saves on the night. He denied a Joseph Nane strike from the edge of the penalty area in the first half. His best came in the 73rd minute when he stretched to deny Thompson on a through ball from Akpan.

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