It’s difficult to find positives in a 3-1 loss to open the home season but we’ll give it a shot.
TONIGHT WAS ABOUT THE FANS
The Rapids faithful had waited 413 days to watch their team and if goals entertain, well, the match probably didn’t disappoint. From the opening minute, it was clear Austin FC was eager to play the spoiler. The visitors clearly wanted to make the Rapids uncomfortable and for long stretches they did just that. The Rapids took control of the match just before the half, in and around Andre Shinyashiki’s goal, but failed to generate much in the second half, especially after the visitors took the lead. Colorado was able to get 19 shots off but only six found the frame.
“It started from the first whistle. We came out kind of flat, we weren’t clean with the ball and Austin is a footballing team,” Kellyn Acosta said after the loss. “They got comfortable early, and we were just uncomfortable for the game. Once they scored that first goal, it was tough on us, but I thought we could have had a better answer.”
Regardless of the happenings on the field, nearly 8,000 supporters were able to join in watching the beautiful game on a perfect spring night in Colorado. It wasn’t the history (Austin FC’s first-ever win) or the result Rapids fans will have hoped for but there were bright spots, the brightest of all being a sense of normalcy in the building with chanting, supporting, community and live sport on display for the first time since March 2020.
“It was definitely a great time with fans in the stands,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “Certainly, wish we would’ve given them a better performance. We’ve talked about playing for our fans for awhile now, not having them here was something that we missed, and we’ve been looking forward to having them back. Our resolve has to be has to be that it’s going to be better.”
TWENTY-FIVE AND COUNTING
With Shinyashiki’s goal in the 36th minute, the night seemed off to a bright start. The Set Piece King and captain, Jack Price, had lined up another perfect corner that found its way into the back of the net and the home side had the lead just before halftime. With the goal, the Rapids extended their scoring streak at home to 25 games. Those 25 matches stretch back to October 6, 2018 when Colorado was held off the scoresheet by a visiting LAFC.
The Rapids generated 11 corners on the night against Austin FC but Shinyashiki’s was the only one that really troubled the visitors. After celebrating with his teammates, the Brazilian forward went directly over to assistant coach Chris Sharpe on the sideline and celebrated by squirting a water bottle and giving him a hug. For Sharpe, the coach tasked with overseeing set pieces of Fraser’s staff, it had to feel nice for the 2021 scoring account to be opened like that. That Rapids continue to be incredibly dangerous off the dead ball.
IT’S EARLY IN A LONG SEASON
Next up for the Rapids - an away contest against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday. The match will be played on a familiar pitch in Sandy, Utah and the Whitecaps are off to a strong start this season, with a win and a draw against Portland and Toronto, respectively. Fraser’s side will be hungry to right the performance against Austin and do so in a familiar place.
After Sunday night’s contest in Utah, the Rapids return to DSGP for two straight home matches. The first is against Minnesota United FC on May 8 in a rematch of last year's MLS Cup Playoff contest. Adrian Heath’s Loons have lost their first two matches by a combined six to one and you had better believe Fraser’s side will want another crack at Minnesota after having their season ended by the Loons last November. Following the May 8 contest, the Rapids face Houston Dynamo FC, a side that finished last in the Western conference in 2020. Six total points should be on the mind of the home side in those two matches.