The Colorado Rapids fell to Portland Timbers on Saturday night in a 3-0 decision. Abe Rodriguez made history as the youngest Rapids goalkeeper to take to the pitch when he subbed on in the first half’s stoppage time.
“For us just about being consistent in this league or to be competitive week in and week out,” said head coach Robin Fraser postgame. “I think in spite of the absences it was really good at the beginning but we need to be able to maintain that level of engagement and concentration.”
The Burgundy Boys started off strong at Providence Park with eight shots in the first half alone, including a far-post shot on goal by striker Jonathan Lewis in the 37th minute that was blocked by Portland’s Alijaz Ivacic.
Goalkeeper William Yarbrough recorded two saves in the first half before he intercepted the Timbers’ Santiago Moreno at the top of the box while trying to keep the Rapids out of danger, earning a yellow card in the process. Yarbrough’s collision with Moreno left him unable to return to play, allowing 19-year-old Rodriguez to step on the pitch to defend a penalty kick.
The Rapids immediately rallied around the young ‘keeper.
“He's an incredible shot stopper,” said Fraser. “I didn't really feel like anything changed the demeanor of the team. Everyone has confidence in Abe, we see it day in, day out where he's making incredible saves and the group knows how good he is.”
Sebastian Blanco converted the PK to give the Timbers the lead in stoppage time, putting the Rapids down by one going into the intermission.
Rodriguez made an impact between the posts in the remainder of the game, tallying two saves, including a point-blank kick save in the 62nd minute.
“Honestly I was a little nervous but you know you’ve got to be ready for that situation,” he said postgame. “Always gotta stay ready and I’m happy I got to make my debut.”
Jarosław Niezgoda earned a brace in the matchup, scoring in the 54th and 62nd minutes for the Timbers.
Strikers Michael Barrios, Diego Rubio and Gyasi Zardes led the attacking charge for the Rapids, combining for 11 shots over the 90 minutes. Barrios and Rubio combined for a total of three shots on goal in the 49th minute when Mark-Anthony Kaye was fouled at the top of the Timbers’ box and Rubio stepped up to take the free kick. His bending shot was deflected but Barrios was there for the second and third ball after Ivacic’s saves.
The Rapids will return to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on July 4th when they host Austin FC. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.