The Rapids Academy competed in its first official matches of the 2023 MLS NEXT season this past weekend at the National Soccer Development Centre in Vancouver, Canada, and the Portland Timbers Training Facility in Portland, Oregon. The academy’s U-15 and U-17 teams faced off in back to back weekend matches versus the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers’ Academy sides during a busy start to the season.
The U-17’s were first to take the field on Saturday morning in Vancouver, kicking off the 2023 season with a tough match against the home side.
Despite a lack of league competition in recent weeks, the team managed to assert dominance and dictate play throughout the first 45 minutes. Heading into minute 30, the fans saw the teams find their footing by widening the field of play and creating a strong tempo for the remaining minutes of the half. The half ended with both teams unable to find the back of the net, leaving room for a second half victory.
Defenders Maddox Brown and Isiah Flores were standouts during the team’s opening match, refusing to allow Vancouver to find space in the run of play. Early in the second half, the Rapids gave up the lone goal of the match on a turnover in the midfield that Vancouver was able to convert into a penalty kick opportunity. The home team took the advantage and asserted their lead in the 53rd minute.
The half continued on with Colorado trying to get back in the game as Vancouver defended deep into their defensive half. Ultimately, the U-17’s couldn't find the equalizer and ended their first match in a 1-0 loss.
After a demanding trip from Vancouver to Portland following Saturday's match, the U-17’s took the field against the Portland Timbers on Sunday afternoon.
With tired legs, the Rapids struggled to come together in the first 45 allowing two goals from the Timbers off of a penalty kick and a counter attack. With the home team taking an early 2-0 lead, the Rapids kicked it into high gear in the second half as they searched for two comeback goals.
Patrick Dormoh and Brown led the backline with consistency and positive leadership when the team needed it most, stifling the Timbers offense from running up the score. On the opposing end of the pitch, Joel Ineh and Jacob Lahlou led the Rapids front line as they continued their push for a goal, threatening the Portland defense on many occasions. The half was marked by a couple of good scoring opportunities that could have changed the scoreline, however the team was unable to capitalize on the chances and the score remained unchanged.
The Rapids Academy U-15 team kicked off their MLS NEXT season in Vancouver and wasted no time making their mark.
Colorado opened the scoring in the third minute of the game when Wyatt Bucci served a through ball behind the Vancouver back line to Christian “Tigre” Sanchez who squared one to Landon Strohmeyer for the finish. Unfortunately, the Rapids did not hold the lead long as Vancouver quickly converted on a turnover in the build to find the equalizer.
The Rapids remained on the front foot controlling possession and creating multiple chances for the go ahead goal, including two efforts denied by the crossbar. The finishing touch was ultimately lacking, leading to a 1-1 draw with Vancouver in their first game of the weekend.
The U-15’s ended the weekend on a positive note with a 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers’ Academy side, which saw Noah Chavarria bag a brace and Cristopher Madera add the additional goal of the match.
Coming off of their trip from Vancouver, the Rapids pushed through fatigue and brought a positive energy into their match versus Portland. The group defended well with Leo Medina in goal, leading the team to its first clean sheet of the new year.
On the attacking end of the pitch, Madera gave Colorado an early lead with a powerful run and a clever finish from midfield after Landon Strohmeyer’s excellent interception. In the second half, Noah Chavarria scored two brilliant free-kicks that ultimately decided the game.
The Rapids will travel to Austin, Texas, this week to take on the U-14, U-15 and U-17 Austin FC Academy sides. To view the full 2023 Rapids Academy schedule, click here.