Three lessons learned: Rapids tied the score late against Messi and Inter Miami

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10), front right, vies with Colorado Rapids forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes, left, during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Inter Miami striker Lionel Messi (10), front right, competes with Colorado Rapids striker Kimani Stewart-Baynes, left, during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, April 6 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Three minutes of Lionel Messi magic was all Inter Miami needed to snatch three points from the Colorado Rapids at Chase Stadium on Saturday night.

But the Rapids’ determination showed for the second straight Saturday, and Cole Bassett scored an 88th-minute winner to tie the score at two goals apiece.

The Rapids took the lead in the first half of the season thanks to a penalty taken by Rafael Navarro in the 45th minute. Kévin Cabral was awarded the penalty just seconds after receiving a yellow card after committing a foul to prevent a counterattack. Navarro calmly buried the left side of Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender for his second goal of the season.

Messi came on at half-time to add some attacking power to a team that had lacked it throughout the first half. In the 58th minute, he scored with a beautiful shot just inside the penalty area, missing the left post and going inside.

Just two minutes later, he staged another attack, which ended with Leonardo Frugis Afonso scoring to take the lead. Bassett’s left-footed effort earned the Rapids a huge point in the first leg of their two-match trip.

Here are three takeaways from the 2-2 draw:

Resolve earned a point in a wild second half

It’s not uncommon for a team to erase a deficit and take the lead after just three minutes. The impact can be devastating for the team that concedes, but for the Rapids, belief is on another level, even if something heartbreaking happens.

In many ways, Rapids coach Chris Armas wanted his team to play better regardless of the result, his biggest gripe was that his team put a lot of pressure on Miami early but remained inconsistent in actually threatening to score.

But the most consistent trait remains the determination the Rapids show when they lose.

“You can see how quickly things change against some of the best players in the world, so we really don’t want to make a habit of going down,” Armas said. “But we want to get into the habit of being able to come back and have players who can’t give in or give up, and as a coaching staff, they’re still aggressive and trying to score goals and win. ”

Have the tides changed?

Last week, Armas wasn’t ready to call his late 3-2 comeback against MLS giant LAFC a season-defining moment. He, along with midfielder Cole Bassett, are yet to score after another late goal to claim another point, but the buzz was felt across the squad.

After all, four points in two weeks against the two best teams in MLS is nothing to scoff at.

“I think from these results you can see the character we have built and the mentality in the dressing room, but I don’t think that was the deciding factor in the season,” Bassett said. “I think last week was special in terms of building confidence in the team and especially the fan base. … So the next three out of four games (on the road), these are huge if you can get three points in these games.

“I don’t think these things are season-defining because we have to be consistent throughout the season.”

Two important launches

Keegan Rosenberry was listed as questionable after entering the match with a hamstring injury, but was unable to play. Replacing him was Homegrown Sebastian Anderson, who made his first start and first appearance of the season on the first-team contract he signed during the season.

At times he looked a bit nervous, which was understandable given the circumstances and personnel on the other side. But for the most part, he held his own.

In the 85th minute, just a few minutes before Bassett equalized, Senegalese midfielder Lamine Diack entered the field for his first match in a Rapids shirt. A defensive midfielder similar to Oliver Larraz and Connor Ronan, the decision to add Diack to Navarro has allowed Bassett to play more comfortably and effectively on the field.

The reward: a late equalizer for Bassett, his second of the season.

“I think playing in a deeper role, doing my job for this team is important because I know we don’t have too many guys in (the defensive midfielder role) at the moment,” Bassett said. “But I still knew I could get back up and maybe have a few chances. I know I will have a chance, no matter where I play.”

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