Despite touching down in Colorado a mere 24 hours prior to kickoff, the Rapids grabbed three points from LAFC on Saturday with a 2-0 victory at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park after netting two penalty kick goals in the first thirty minutes of the game. The Burgundy Boys remain unbeaten at home in the regular season with 22 games.
After their U.S. Open Cup matchup with Minnesota United FC was postponed to Thursday afternoon, and flights back home were postponed to Friday morning, the Rapids’ Saturday match marked their second game in 48 hours.
“I'm so f---ing proud of this team,” said head coach Robin Fraser postgame. “The amount of adversity we've had to deal with this week, extremely, extremely challenging circumstances. I mean, we were playing 48 hours ago. That's unprecedented. I said to the team, I love being tested. Because then you really see the character of the group. And we were on the front foot from the beginning of the game. So really proud of the effort that they put in, the guys who started, the guys who came off the bench. It was just relentless. And coming off the week that we are coming off, I could not be more proud of them.”
Designated Player Gyasi Zardes recorded his first goal in a Rapids kit on Saturday afternoon when he stepped up to convert a penalty in the 17th minute.
LAFC has not been shut out yet this season, home or away. Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough recorded two saves on the day, including a kick save in the 86th minute to keep the Black and Gold scoreless until the final whistle.
Fraser credited the mentality of the team for the ability to take on a Western Conference leader and come out with three points at altitude.
“It doesn't matter who we play in that we have a belief here,” he said postgame. “We have a belief that we are very, very good at home. And that sort of belief can propel you, at times, beyond even your play. I look at today, and that is absolutely the underlying factor of the great effort, fantastic movements, fantastic plays to create dangerous opportunities. But it all stems from the belief in the environment and the belief in themselves within this environment.”
The Rapids’ 22 games unbeaten at home currently ties the record for fifth all time in MLS, Colorado has outscored opponents 10-1 at home during the current campaign.
Colorado took the lead early when striker Rubio drew a foul in the box as he was attempting to get on the end of Bryan Acosta’s free kick. LAFC’s Sebastien Ibeagha’s high kick connected with Rubio’s head as the Rapids striker went for the finishing header, and Zardes stepped up for the ensuing penalty kick. The newest member in burgundy cleanly put the shot away to the right side to earn his first goal as a Rapids player since joining Fraser’s side in April.
With the momentum of an early goal propelling them, the Rapids kept their foot on the pedal and scored yet another penalty kick goal in the 24th minute after Jonathan Lewis was taken down in the 18. Rubio’s chance from the spot was saved by LAFC’s John McCarthy, but the play was flagged and taken to VAR, which saw the keeper step off his line before the kick was taken.
Rubio’s second attempt found the back of the net to mark his 40th MLS career goal in the regular season.
LAFC couldn’t respond to either goal for the remainder of the game and headed home to the City of Angels without any points earned at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park.
The Rapids will embark on another road trip this Wednesday as they travel to Sporting Kansas City. Colorado took all three points at home in their second game of the season against SKC in March.
Kickoff at Children’s Mercy Park is set for 6:30 p.m. MT and the game will be available to stream on Altitude TV, as well as Altitude Radio 92.5 FM. The Burgundy Boys will return home on Sunday, May 22 with the hope of defending their unbeaten streak against Concacaf Champions League victors, Seattle Sounders FC.