When the Colorado Rapids touched down in San Salvador for a tournament match last week, they were ready for a tough, dramatic game. But it was a pre-game mishap that ended with a cliffhanger and flashing blue lights.

After a long flight Tuesday night, the Rapids players spent Wednesday relaxing at the hotel, having team meals together, and strategizing about the upcoming game against Isidro Metapán. But at the stadium that night, things went awry when Rapids’ equipment manager Carlos Garcia realized the bag with the players’ cleats had been left behind at the hotel—two hours away.

Erik Carlson, the team administrator, immediately went into problem-solving mode. A call went out to Intercontinental Hotel, and within minutes, the cleats were en route to the game—police escort and all.

Back at the stadium, it was dangerously close to game time. Metapán loaned several pairs of cleats to their opponents, and even pulled some strings to have a local athletic store open its doors—after hours—for two hard-to-fit players.

“The most amazing thing about it was how the players handled it,” says David Lindholm, director of media relations for the Rapids. “They could have gotten discouraged, but everyone had a great attitude. And we couldn’t have asked for more from Metapán—if they’d done half as much as they did, we would still have been very grateful.”

With just one minute before kick-off, the players took their team photo in borrowed cleats. Thirty seconds later, a hotel employee rushed into the stadium with the VIP bag of cleats. Now, that’s a close call.

—Image courtesy of the Colorado Rapids. See more pictures of the great cleat fiasco here.