COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Two defensive mistakes from the Colorado Rapids allowed a visiting Real España side to steal a 2-1 victory in CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday night.
Both teams now have four points from four games in Group B, but the Rapids tumbled to fourth place in the standings based on goal differential. It was the second straight defeat in CCL play for the MLS Cup defending champions.
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Honduran legend Carlos Pavón was the hero for Real España, as he took advantage of some sloppy Rapids defending in the 12th and 33rd minutes to score.
On the first goal, the Rapids defense failed to clear the ball in a dangerous area and looked around at each other as Pavón slipped in to shoot one past 'keeper Steward Ceus.
On the second tally, center back Mike Holody misjudged a headed clearance and allowed the ball to get in behind the Rapids defense. Pavón ran on and made no mistake with and again beat Ceus, this time slotting it into the corner.
Andre Akpan pulled one back for the Rapids in the 18th minute after persistent work from teammate Macoumba Kandji. Kandji’s cross found Akpan in the penalty area and the striker shot home for this second goal of the season.
Rapids coach Gary Smith fielded an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, resting a number of starters with one eye on two games coming up in the next six days. Midfielder Jamie Smith, who almost clinched an equalizer with a precise free kick in stoppage time, came on as a second-half substitute for his first action since July 29.
The Rapids dominated possession and looked bright going forward but were unable to finish several chances.
In the first half, the home side had 11 shots to Real España’s two. Akpan, in addition to his goal, went very close on two occasions, hitting the post in the 27th minute with a neat side foot shot from inside the penalty area and then wasting a good chance from a long clearance shortly after Pavón’s second goal.
The Rapids next play at home against the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 24 in a vital league game.