Keep your head down and keep working.
For all the hacks and shortcuts people want to take on the path to success, there’s something to be said for putting a smile on your face, keeping your head down and working hard. That’s what Nana Boateng has done every day since he arrived in Colorado ahead of the 2017 season. There have been ups and downs and he’s shown glimpses during his time, but positive moments to look back on have been in relatively short supply.
The hard work finally paid off in a tangible way for the 24-year-old midfielder late Saturday night. His stoppage-time goal will take all the headlines, and deservedly so. I mean what a way to score your first MLS goal. But it was the complete 90-minute performance from box to box that should earn Nana MLS Team of the Week honors. He was involved in seemingly every build-up and broke up plenty of attacks, especially in the second half. One moment a physical presence charging forward, the next moment playing a ball out wide with finesse.
"Nana got stronger as the game went on," Anthony Hudson said. "When we were looking at changes, Nana sort of grew into the game. I'm just very pleased with him. I thought he did well. I thought he finished strong."
It was a coming-of-age performance from the Ghanaian who took full advantage of the starting nod and may not give it up any time soon.
It was a resilient performance.
The breaks didn’t seem as if they were falling the way of the Rapids on Saturday night. A harsh penalty call on Kortne Ford. Two ‘how in the world did the ball not go into the net?!?’ plays in the second half looked to be the best chances the Rapids would get. One from Jack McBean that was saved by Andrew Tarbell and a clear header that went just high from Niki Jackson (on a beautiful ball from Nana, but enough about him). Point is the Rapids could’ve settled for a 1-1 draw and chalked it up to an unlucky night. But they didn’t.
There were a number of players that stuck out against San Jose. The ageless Tim Howard made a handful of big saves and Kortne Ford continues to show why he’s one of the best young defenders in MLS. But Dillon Serna, who subbed on for Enzo Martinez in the first half, was dangerous on goal and running to space all night. He didn’t look totally comfortable on the right wing, but he made the most of the time he was given and caused problems for San Jose along the way. Three guys who have been around the club and know what it takes to win in MLS.
"We're getting guys that are pitching in at the right time," Howard said. "Dillon Serna was really good tonight. Niki Jackson came on and made himself a nuisance as he does, feeling unlucky that he didn't hit the target with the header. Our subs came on and did well, and Nana has been playing well for a couple of weeks now."
With the win, the Rapids picked up points on Houston, Minnesota, LA Galaxy, and Real Salt Lake. Yes, there’s still a way to climb with 11 games remaining but you can’t close the door just yet. A tough road trip for a pair of games in LA looms this week, but a chance to lift the Rocky Mountain Cup in front of the home fans follows that on August 25. If nothing else, it will be an entertaining close to the month.