The Colorado Rapids concluded the regular season with a commanding 5-2 victory over LAFC on Sunday night at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park to finish first in the Western Conference heading into the Audi 2021 MLS Club Playoffs. With the win, the Rapids earn a first round bye and secure the most points in a single season in club history with 61. Colorado also clinches a spot in the Concacaf Champions League for 2022.
"I'm so incredibly proud of the players, and the effort that they've put in since day one," head coach Robin Fraser said. "We talked about the fact that nobody talks about us. And we're okay with that. And what we talked about today is we're talking about proving things to ourselves and to our fans. And that was the most important thing. And we see the team come out and put out a performance like that, I'm so incredibly proud of them."
Eight members of the Rapids squad connected to deal the Decision Day blow to LAFC and seal Colorado’s spot atop the West for the first time in club history. Sunday's Fan Appreciation match marked the 16th unbeaten game in front of a home crowd.
The dynamic duo of Kellyn Acosta and Jonathan Lewis set the tone for Colorado in the 18th minute when Acosta’s run up the left side and slotted ball into the box was easily picked off by Lewis to find the back of the net.
Acosta and Lewis’ chemistry continued on in the 33rd minute in a mirror image of the leadup to the Rapids’ first goal of the night, as their connection into the box was cleared out by LAFC for a corner. Captain Jack Price’s kick bounced around and out of the box before midfielder Collen Warner drove a low ball into the sea of bodies to be deflected into the goal to put the Rapids up by two. The strike was Warner’s first of the season and with the club.
Price’s assist was his 12th of the season, effectively sealing a personal record for the Rapids' captain and recording the most assists in a regular season since Omar Cummings in 2009.
Coming out of the half, the Rapids kept their foot on the gas. In the 53rd minute, Lewis recorded a brace on the night when Diego Rubio’s drive into the box and layoff to his teammate was easily tapped into the net.
LAFC was quick to respond with a goal of their own two minutes later as Cristian Arango netted his 14th of the regular season.
Homegrown Cole Bassett was next up to put one on the scoreboard for the Rapids when he lined up Michael Barrios’ cross into the box and sent the ball driving to the far post and past Blackman for Colorado’s fourth goal. Bassett’s goal in the 63rd minute was his fourth of the season.
LAFC responded again in the 71st minute with a Brian Rodriguez goal.
The Rapids capped off the night with Dominique Badji’s fifth goal in 2021, assisted by Steven Beitashour. The Sengalese striker has now scored in four of his last five appearances.
The win also marks the team’s 30th under head coach Robin Fraser. The Rapids are 30-15-14 since Fraser’s first match at the helm on Aug. 31, 2019.
The Rapids head into a three-week break before beginning playoff competition at home at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park. Their first-place finish in the conference secures their spot as host to all games in the west during the playoffs.
"I really have literally not one tiny bit of concern about keeping their focus. It's such a good group and a tight group and they know what's ahead of them. And they're taking this moment to appreciate what they've done to this point."