TUCSON, Ariz. (Wednesday, February 19, 2014) – The Colorado Rapids became the first team to breach the Chicago Fire’s defenses in preseason, but it was not enough as they fell 2-1 in Arizona on Wednesday afternoon in their opening match of the Desert Diamond Cup presented by FC Tucson.
Two-nil down at the interval, it was Designated Player Gabriel Torres, following an impressive combination with Dillon Serna, who netted the Rapids’ response on 68 minutes. Homegrown Player Serna found the ball at his feet during a bright spell for the Rapids. He threaded it through the Fire defense for Torres, who received it on the breakaway and calmly finished, ending Chicago’s 428-minute shutout streak in 2014. Several more chances in the second half from Edson Buddle and Nick LaBrocca nearly found the net but were just off target.
Chicago were first on the scoreboard, in a first half that saw a couple of defensive lapses for the Rapids. In the 37th minute, Grant Ward found space on the right sideline to send a lofted ball into the box, only to watch with some surprise as it floated just over the wingspan of John Berner. Three minutes later, the Rapids struggled to clear a bouncing ball, allowing former player Quincy Amarikwa a shot from close range to double Chicago's lead, before something of a second-half revival from the Rapids.
By the end of the match, the Rapids had done a full lineup change, giving young and old players alike a chance of playing time. Trialists Albert Edward, Juan Guzman and Samuel Galindo got the start, while José Mari entered in the second half. Buddle, a 65th minute sub, provided an obvious spark to the offense, eager to get his team on the scoreboard with a handful of crafty plays.
After having only a day in Tucson before this encounter, the Rapids will have three more days until their next challenge. They continue play in the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday, facing MLS arch-rivals Real Salt Lake at 3:30 p.m. MT, streamed live on www.ColoradoRapids.com. Then they’ll face Chivas USA in a rematch of the Las Vegas ProSoccerChallenge on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.