The Big Picture
The Colorado Rapids bested Minnesota United FC 4-3 at home on Saturday night, credit to a Gyasi Zardes hat trick and Diego Rubio header. Their second multi-goal win in as many games boosts the Burgundy Boy's confidence heading into the final leg of the season.
"I think it's a really important win for us. Just given how are seasons gone, the inconsistency, the lack of back-to-back wins. It's a big, big win for us in terms of gaining confidence," said head coach Robin Fraser after the victory. "We talked about how we need to have a playoff mentality at this point. And for a game like this, no, we didn't play particularly well, but we had moments where we were very, very good and very clinical. And in the end we won."
Much like the contest with New York earlier in the week, the opposition took an early upper hand over the Rapids when Abu Danladi capitalized off his chances in the box following a Minnesota corner.
The Rapids followed recent tradition by coming back with emphasis. It took the Burgundy Boys only three minutes to net an equalizer, as a well-possessed play out of the back saw Rubio receive a pass into the attacking third from Bryan Acosta, take two touches to set up the shot, and tear one from distance to the far post. Goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair couldn’t get a grip on the low ball and Zardes was there to punish him, driving the chance home.
Rubio got his own just four minutes later when Keegan Rosenberry launched a throw from the sideline all the way to the six, where the Chilean striker was waiting in a pocket of three Loons to take the header. The goal marks his 30th in Colorado, moving him to 6th-most on the Rapids’ all-time scoring list.
"It's always important to win, it doesn't matter against who sometimes, you win when you have this mentality," he said postgame. "When you go against teams that are in the playoffs already you go as hard as you can, but I think that mentality has to be every week every game."
Zardes found his second in the 15th minute after Rosenberry’s quick thinking led to a fast restart from the line, landing at Michael Barrios’ feet. Barrios’ drive up the right side and into the box turned into simple math as Zardes followed his run just towards goal, where he slotted the ball across. Zardes beat his defender and St. Clair to lead the ball into the back of the net.
Minnesota finished off the first 45 with a goal from Luis Amarilla.
Despite netting two against the Twin Cities opponent, a brace just wasn’t enough for Zardes on Saturday night. He found a third goal in the 61st minute after a near carbon-copy play saw Rubio take another low drive shot that was bobbled by St. Clair. Zardes’ sliding followup marked his second hat trick of his MLS career.
"I always work hard, you know, people on the outside they can look at it and they're just like, 'Oh, he's not scoring. He's not playing well.' That's not true. You know, there's other things you can do to help the team. It's important that I keep working hard in training and I know it's going to carry over to the game. And tonight, you know, the fruits of my labor was getting three goals and I'm just thankful to finally get another hat trick and it's just motivating for myself to keep working hard, so I can try to do it again next weekend."
The Loons got one back in the 81st minute on a corner as Brent Kallman found a header in the six to finish the scoring on the night.
- Zardes' hat trick not only marked his second in his career, but his second against the Loons. His previous three-goal game was while rostered for Columbus Crew in 2018.
- Colorado is now six games unbeaten vs. Minnesota at home. The Rapids tied the first meeting 2-2 and won the following five encounters, outscoring the Loons 13 to nine in that span.
- The Rapids have now scored nine goals in two games. Colorado hasn't recorded four or more games in back-to-back matches in club history.
- Rubio leads the team with 11 goals and six assists in his 2022 account. The Chilean has now recorded a goal or an assist in seven consecutive matches. His goal on Saturday matches his career season-high, first set in 2019.
- Felipe Gutiérrez made his official Rapids debut Saturday night after being acquired on Wednesday.
The Rapids will stay at home to take on Columbus Crew next Saturday on Military Appreciation night. Zardes’ former club will visit altitude for the first time since May 2019. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m MT.