On a tough night for both sides, Rapids defender Mekeil Williams went 96 minutes against the New York Red Bulls after finally arriving back in Colorado due to Visa issues at home in Trinidad & Tobago. Slotting in at right back, Williams admitted that play was difficult for both teams with the blanketing snow, swirling wind, and an increasingly icy pitch. Adaptation was the key.
“To be honest, in these kinds of conditions, I don’t think anybody has an advantage,” Williams explained to Current of Colorado for attacking or defending. “You just got to be really focused and really positive in what you do. You’ve got to focus more on your position. As a defender, you’ve got to always be covering in these kind of conditions because there’s always going to be flick-ons and somebody might miss, so you gotta focus on cover. It’s communication. One guy’s going up, and he’s not going to see what’s going on behind him. The guy closest to him has to communicate and let him know what is going on around him.”
That communication and cover was evident all night as Colorado defenders Marc Burch, Bobby Burling, Eric Miller, and Williams were extremely solid and careful not to let much behind them. “Tonight the team had a great game. The guys came out and gave a great effort, everybody was willing to work and do the job the team needed,” Williams said. Fulfilling attacking duties near the right corner flag, Williams provided the service for Jermaine Jones’ first Rapids goal.
Marco Pappa started the sequence with a nifty bit of skill. The Guatemalan raced into the crowded corner to receive a throw-in from Williams, draw two defenders with the ball, and release the T&T defender within the clump of four Red Bulls in the corner. Williams drilled a neat ball low in the penalty area where Jones struck it inside the left post.
“I think in the first half there was a lot of great combination play down the right side,” said head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “As a coach, sometimes you kind of wince when Marco [Pappa] slows the ball down and does his magic. I think that first goal came from his ability to hold the ball up and play Mekeil in.”
Things cooled down in the second half, a bit too literally according to Williams. This is when Colorado’s defense stuck together, but still the Red Bulls hit the equalizer off of a second ball coming from a refried corner kick.
Williams and his backline mates stayed calm, though, and were able to clear away anything too threatening from the visitors. “The second half it was a little bit icy. You need to take a few steps off because it’s going to be dangerous with balls in behind,” Williams said. “So we just stepped back a bit and let them play in front of us.”