COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Thursday night’s July 4th showdown between the New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids eventually turned into Friday morning’s July 5th showdown, as three separate weather delays totaling three hours and 34 minutes pushed the match well past midnight.
In the end the Revs won’t mind how long it took – a little more than five hours all told, for posterity – as goals from Teal Bunbury (the 50th of his MLS career) and Juan Fernando Caicedo helped the Revs stretch their unbeaten run to seven games (4-0-3) with a 2-1 win over the Rapids.
Initially slated to kick off at 7 p.m. MT, severe weather in the form of lightning, rain, hail, and even a tornado watch delayed the start a little more than an hour. The sides played 27 minutes – Bunbury’s goal opened the scoring in the eighth – before there was a second delay lasting more than an hour-and-a-half.
It was wash, rinse, repeat as the players again came out for warmups and again resumed the match, only for a third weather delay – this one lasting 50 minutes – just six minutes after they’d restarted.
“It’s a lot of chaos,” said Bunbury. “It’s a mental game. You go out there and you’re ready to play, but it’s both teams that have to deal with it. You can’t control the weather, so you try to keep your spirits up when you’re in the locker room.
“Time’s going by, so whatever way you stay motivated – listening to some music, keeping your mind in it, and trying to stay sharp when you step back out on the field.”
Head coach Bruce Arena – who said he has “been involved in some odd things, but that competes with all of them” – admitted there’s not much the staff can do to help the players during the delays other than to implore them to stay mentally strong.
Arena wasn’t particularly pleased with the frequency of the delays, saying the staff “probably gave [the players] 15 incorrect messages in the locker room (about) when we were going to go out and play again,” but he was proud of the way the Revs responded to the adversity.
“Today, it’s just a battle of simply surviving,” Arena said. “It was a difficult game with all the circumstances, and we managed to survive. That’s all I can say. There’s nothing you can really comment on this game. This was just a gut check.”
It was particularly a gut check through the final 15 minutes after the Rapids cut the Revolution’s lead in half with a 71st-minute goal, but the Revs withstood the late onslaught – buoyed by a stellar save from Matt Turner in the dying moments – and won their second straight road game in league play.
“That’s what you’ve got to do on the road,” said Turner. “Two goals should be enough to win you games when you’re on the road. We didn’t have our best game in all phases, but we were able to get three points and we really battled through it, so I’m proud of the guys tonight.”