The Big Picture
The Colorado Rapids (17-7-10, 61 points) scored a season-high five goals in a 5-2 win over LAFC (12-13-9, 45 points) to finish in first place in the Western Conference for the first time in the 26-year history of the club. Jonathan Lewis scored twice and Collen Warner, Cole Bassett, and Dominique Badji added one each to help the Rapids earn their 17th win of the season, the most in the post-shootout era of the club’s history. With the top seed, the Rapids secure a first-round bye in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, along with a berth in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League.
- With 61 points, the Rapids complete the best regular season finish in club history. It is the first time ever that the Rapids finish in first place in the Western Conference. Their 17 wins are the most in the club’s history in the post-shootout era. Colorado also clinched a berth in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League with the result.
- The win is Robin Fraser’s 30th as Rapids head coach. The Rapids are 30-15-14 under Fraser; their 1.76 points per game since his first game at the helm on Aug. 31, 2019, are the second-highest in MLS.
- F Jonathan Lewis scored to make it 1-0 in the 18th minute. Lewis made it 3-0 in the 53rd minute with his seventh goal of the season, a career high. It was Lewis’ first two-goal game since Aug. 31, 2019, a 2-0 win over New York Red Bulls in Robin Fraser’s first game as Rapids head coach.
- M Kellyn Acosta and D Danny Wilson each earned their second assists of the season on Lewis’ goal. It marks a new single-season MLS career high for Wilson. F Diego Rubio picked up a career high sixth assist of 2021 on Lewis’ second goal.
- M Collen Warner scored his first goal in Burgundy to make it 2-0 in the 33rd minute. The Denver East High alumnus scored his fifth career MLS goal and his first since 2017.
- F Dominique Badji scored his fifth goal of the season and his fourth in his last five games.
- M Cole Bassett scored his fifth goal of the season, tying a career high, to make it 4-1 just 13 minutes after entering the match. Bassett assisted on F Dominique Badji’s goal in the 79th minute, as did D Steven Beitashour.
- F Michael Barrios picked up his sixth assist of the season on Bassett’s goal.
- Colorado’s five goals are the most by any team on Decision Day. It is Colorado’s highest single-game output of the season.
- M Jack Price made his 100th start with the club. He led the Rapids with 12 assists this season, the most by a Rapids player since Omar Cummings had 12 in 2009.
- GK William Yarbrough finishes the season tied for the league lead with 13 clean sheets, the most by a Rapids goalkeeper in a single season ever.
COLORADO RAPIDS HEAD COACH ROBIN FRASER
On tonight’s match:
“Words can’t express how proud I am of this team. Anyone who’s ever heard me has heard me rave about people, what a good group it is, how much they care for each other, how much they play hard for each other. While this is just one step—it’s certainly a good step—we still have so much more to do this year. But we will take a minute to really appreciate what the team has done and how hard they’ve worked and to have gotten to this point. LAFC is a very good team. I don’t care what their record was or how it ended up. Very good team. Very organized. They came out and certainly provided some challenges for us early on and created some opportunity themselves and I was really proud of the team for how well we defended early. And as we sorted some things out, we started to get behind them a bit, we were able to create a few chances. Obviously the goal came at a good time—the first goal came at a good time. And then throughout the game, as I said, they’re a good team and we were under pressure quite a bit. We bent early on but we didn’t break. Some of the really good distribution and running in transition was excellent for us. We were able to create some chances and ultimately get the win. Incredibly proud of the entire group. What a massive team effort. Tonight is a microcosm of the season for us in my opinion in that we are a group that play really hard for each other. Some games everything goes right, it looks great, and some games we have to fight and grind and we do that, and sometimes both things occur within one game. But the fact is, the team never quits. It’s the one thing I know I will get out of them will be effort. And tonight was no different.”
On his journey from being Chivas USA coach to winning the Western Conference with the Rapids:
“You know, Charles [Boehm], when I heard the question was coming from you, I thought about the interview you and I did first game of 2020 in D.C. I’m sure I raved about the team then. It’s pretty appropriate that the first question comes from you because I’m sure I raved about the team and we had a long way to go and we had some things to do and we did well on that day. But the progress that we’ve made in two years has been really fantastic. This is really gratifying. To answer your question, it has been, to be honest, a good ride to get back to this point. Chivas [USA] was definitely a low point, or certain points of it and the way it ended. To go and be an assistant for Mike [Petke] at New York was a great place to land after Chivas. Mike and I had a great relationship and we had some really good years together with the Red Bulls. Then to go to Toronto and reunite with Greg [Vanney] and Dan [Calichman] and so many people that I’ve been close with for so long, guys I was with at Chivas, as a matter of fact, to have the success that we did here was fantastic. I grew so much through that experience. I grew so much from being with Greg day in, day out, that to have the opportunity to come to Colorado, which is a place I’ve loved—I’ve been here, I’ve played here for a couple of different teams, a couple of different leagues, I have so many ties here—to have the opportunity to come back here and coach, that in and of itself was a huge turnaround from the days back in Chivas. It took a while to get back to being a head coach. But to land here with this group of players, I feel really fortunate. I keep pushing them and they just keep working. I keep demanding of them and they just keep meeting expectations. To have won the West, I’m incredibly, incredibly proud of the team, and as you said, we have more to do, but we’re going to take a minute to really appreciate and enjoy this.”
On the goals from Cole Bassett and Collen Warner:
“Both guys have been really, really good all year. I think Cole was leading with hitting the crossbar or the post—leading the league some months back—I think he’s hit the post seven or eight times this year. He’s someone who always, always, always has an eye on goals and assists. It was great for him to be able to get one tonight. That’s great. The players love that, everyone loves goals. Fans love that. I love the effort and the work rate that Cole put in tonight and the shift that he put in was very, very good. Same for Collen. Collen has played extremely well all year and I’m so happy for him that he gets a goal. He took it really well. It was very timely, very important for us. But again, outside of the goal, what Collen has done for this team over the last two years has been phenomenal. He’s worked incredibly hard and he’s played in some big moments and had some big games. I think any player scoring goals is a validation for them, so I’m sure both are extremely happy, but what I’m really proud of is just how hard they work and how unselfish they both are.”
COLORADO RAPIDS MIDFIELDER COLE BASSETT
On tonight’s match:
“It’s a special night. I don’t recall the last time when it was, what year it was, when we won the West. For me, growing up, since I’ve been able to physically understand soccer, it hasn’t happened. Being a hometown kid and helping this team get first place, throughout a long season is not easy to do, but we’re super happy to get it. In the game, it’s not always the prettiest. We defend so well and we have some pretty dangerous attackers to score goals. We showed that tonight. It’s not always going to be pretty soccer, I think we can still improve on that, but we find ways to win games and we score a lot of goals when needed. Great win.”
On scoring his fifth goal of the season:
“When I came into the game, I realized there was a lot of space for us on the counter attack. I believe I picked it up from Mark [Anthony Kaye] in the midfield and then just tried to combine with Diego [Rubio]. I love to drive with the ball. I could’ve passed to Kellyn [Acosta] and he could’ve went, but I decided to drive and created a 2-v-1, I found Mikey [Barrios], he gave it back. We have a good connection, me and him. After that, it was just what we do in training, find the corner. For me, like you said, it’s been a little bit of a relief. I don’t know if I still lead the league in [shots off the] post, but for me, it’s been so unlucky, hitting the post, missing so many clear chances. That’s one of the things that I take pride in. I think if I hit all those, maybe they’re talking a little bit differently this year. A lot of people can still not talk about us much, not give us credit, but for me to put that goal away, it helps me build confidence going into playoffs.”
On his reaction if told Colorado would win the West in April:
“I would be stoked when you said it, but I wouldn’t be surprised, though. We know with the group that we have, the quality of players in this team, obviously a lot of us are going to play with good players, but actually forming a team like this and putting all the pieces together, it’s tough. At least while I’m in Colorado, I don’t think there’s going to be a team that beats this team. I’m not surprised that we did it. Took a lot of work to get to this point and actually put all the pieces together during a 34-game season, but we’re super happy. You could see it in the locker room. But we also know we can enjoy it this week but then we have to get back to it. We know the job is not done. We still have to go out and win our first playoff game. We’re solely focused on that, and then we’ll go game by game.”