Look to all but one of the Rapids’ victories this season and you’ll find Diego Rubio’s name on the scoresheet. The Chilean striker is hitting his stride in 2022, and doesn’t plan to back down any time soon.
Rubio netted his 30th goal in burgundy over the weekend as the Rapids beat at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, his 11th of the season. He’s now surpassed Dominique Badji to claim the sixth-most goals for Colorado.
The striker’s confidence level is at a height head coach Robin Fraser hasn’t seen since taking over as manager in 2019, the last season Rubio scored 11 goals.
“I know he feels like every time he goes out he can contribute, he can create a goal or assist, and that sort of confidence is immeasurable for an attacking player,” Fraser said after Rubio’s two-assist execution in Harrison on Tuesday.
He's played a number of different positions and wherever he plays for us, he plays with that level of confidence and level of competency that the team now leans on him.”
Rubio began the 2022 campaign as the Rapids’ number 9, taking his chances in the box whenever the shot was in sight. His leadership in the attack earned Colorado its first goal of the season, a 33rd-minute header past Atlanta’s Brad Guzan in the Burgundy Boys’ home opener.
The arrival of Designated Player Gyasi Zardes in April shook up the Rapids attack. As Zardes moved into the nine spot, Rubio acclimated to placement on the wing or central midfield directly under the striker. As the offense picked up on each other’s playing style, the goals followed.
“You can give him the ball with two guys on his back and he'll roll ‘em, he’ll swim out of it,” Zardes said after Colorado’s 4-3 victory over Minnesota.
His vision is like no other, you know, he's constantly looking across the field, looking for through balls, looking to play feet. He's a very clever player. So for him to play under me, it's amazing because he has multiple options, that's how good he is.”
Rubio’s performance in Week 24 yielded two goals and two assists, earning him Team of the Week honors. Six of his 10 shots taken over the two games against the Red Bulls and the Loons were on frame.
Three of those on-target chances resulted in clean-up goals for fellow Burgundy Boys. His shots from the top of the box led to Homegrown striker Dantouma “Yaya” Toure’s first MLS goal on Tuesday and two of Zardes’ follow-up sliding goals against the Loons.
The Chilean has scored in all but one of the Rapids’ victories this season. His contributions to the successful outcomes leaves Colorado hopeful heading into the final third of 2022.
“Now that we're going up, we’re winning games, it motivates me even more, like I cannot relax now, I need to give more and more and more because we're right there outside the playoff spots,” he said on Saturday. “It's a great motivation, but for me it doesn't stop here. I'm already thinking about the next game.”
With 11 games to go, the Rapids are just three points shy of the Western Conference playoff line. Rubio has the potential to take them all the way to MLS Cup.
“The team looks to him and he has really been the focal part of our attack for quite a while now,” said Fraser. “He doesn't seem to be stopping so I think as long as his confidence continues to be where it is he's gonna continue to be a threat.”