COMMERCE CITY, Colo. ― For the first time in 413 days, the Colorado Rapids will welcome fans to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on Saturday, April 24, when expansion side Austin FC comes to town. Kickoff is set for 7 PM, with pregame coverage beginning on Altitude 2 starting at 6:30 PM and Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 at 6:45 PM.
“Certainly, we’re looking forward to coming home, playing at home, playing in front of fans for the first time in a year certainly will be exciting,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “Our guys are looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to a good game.”
In accordance with MLS capacity guidelines and with approval from the Tri-County Health Department, the Colorado Rapids will be able to host 7,897 fans, or approximately 44 percent of stadium capacity, for Saturday’s match. The last time fans were permitted into DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, on March 7, 2020, midfielder Younes Namli scored in his home debut and defender Drew Moor headed in a stoppage-time corner kick to secure a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC. Colorado is 9-1-4 (W-L-D) all-time in Home Openers at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, including 4-0-3 since 2014.
The Rapids started their 2021 campaign with a hard-fought, 0-0 draw at FC Dallas on Saturday. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough made four saves while Keegan Rosenberry, Danny Wilson, Auston Trusty and Kellyn Acosta kept Dallas’ attack at bay on the back line to earn a clean sheet on Opening Day. The match also saw Colombian winger Michael Barrios, who was acquired via trade from Dallas in January, make his Rapids debut in his return to his former club of six seasons. Barrios led the team with five shots, including three on target.
Colorado returns all but one of its goal scorers from a 2020 season that saw the Rapids qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. 19-year-old midfielder Cole Bassett and 23-year-old winger Jonathan Lewis led Colorado with five goals apiece in 2020, while Bassett and Price led the team with five assists.
Austin is coming off a 2-0 loss at Los Angeles FC on Saturday in its first official match ever. The expansion side held the reigning Supporters’ Shield winner level for an hour until LAFC midfielder Corey Baird scored on a shot from distance in the 61st minute. José Cifuentes then made it 2-0 in stoppage time. Austin is led by head coach Josh Wolff, who previously served as an assistant coach to Gregg Berhalter, first with Columbus Crew SC and most recently with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“Austin is a very good team,” Fraser added. “The old idea of expansion teams being behind the 8 ball, I don’t really think that exists anymore because with the proper amount of lead-in time and resources to go out and get players, good organizations are pretty good from Day 1 these days. Austin is no exception. Josh was an exceptional player in the league and assistant coach for some very good teams so they’re obviously a very organized team and they’ve done a good job of bringing in good talent.”
Saturday will mark the first of three meetings between Colorado and Austin. The Rapids will visit the brand new Q2 Stadium in Austin on July 31 before hosting the Texan side again on Sept. 29. Fans can sign up for the single-game ticket priority list at the link here.
News & Notes
- With the return of fans to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, the club has implemented new policies to ensure the health and safety of all attendees, including paperless tickets, cash-free payment and required face masks. More details can be found at the link here.
- Colorado is 9-1-4 (W-L-D) all-time in Home Openers at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, including 4-0-3 since 2014.
- The Rapids are 6-7-4 in their first meeting against expansion sides, and 8-2-2 at home against expansion sides in their first visits to the Mile High City in their inaugural MLS seasons.
- F Michael Barrios is available for selection to make his Rapids home debut. The Colombian winger was lively in his first match with Colorado on Saturday at FC Dallas, his former club of six years. Barrios led the Rapids with five shots, including three on target.
- Colorado has scored in 24 consecutive matches at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, dating back to Oct. 28, 2018, the longest stretch in club history (previous record was 14 consecutive games).