022716 Rapids vs. Arizona United 2
Skyler Brandt

Match Report: Gashi bags his first, as the Rapids end Desert Diamond Cup on a high

Shkëlzen Gashi scored one and assisted on a Kevin Doyle goal as the Colorado Rapids wrapped-up their preseason games in Tucson with a 3-0 win over USL side Arizona United SC in their final Desert Diamond Cup match.

Arizona had two very good chances in the opening 15 minutes, from Luke Rooney and former Rapids’ player Tony Cascio. Rooney forced a finger-tip save from Zac MacMath with a dangerous freekick. The Rapids’ keeper then blocked from a Cascio shot from the edge of the box.

The opening Rapids goal had a huge slice of good fortune about. A corner from Dillon Powers got a touch, before ricocheting in off the head of the unfortunate Julian Ringhof with 17 minutes gone.

Colorado doubled their lead on 31 minutes through a combination of the club’s two Designated Players. Doyle peeled away from his marker inside the area, and was found with an incisive pass from Gashi. With one touch to settle, Doyle then slipped the ball under the body of Trey Mitchell in the Arizona goal.

Gashi had a decent look at goal shortly after the interval, with an instinctive swivel and turn. His shot, though, was narrowly wide. The Albanian international made no mistake on 63 minutes, having been picked out by Micheal Azira, he calmly beat substitute goalkeeper Jordan Stagmiller from 10 yards out.

Arizona were still afforded chances, even when 3-0 down; the best of which fell to the feet of Jose Cuevas, who was unable to get enough bend on the ball with MacMath some distance off his line.

Most of the starting 11 went the distance, as the Rapids gear-up for their MLS season-opener next weekend. After disappointing results in their three previous Desert Diamond Cup encounters, they return to Colorado off the back of a solid win, and a clean sheet.

Colorado Rapids 3-0 Arizona United SC
February 27, 2016 - Kino Sports Complex, Tucson, AZ

Scoring Summary:
COL - Julian Ringhof (own goal), 17’
COL - Kevin Doyle (Shkëlzen Gashi), 31’
COL - Shkëlzen Gashi (Micheal Azira), 63’

Rapids: Zac MacMath; Eric Miller, Bobby Burling (Emmanuel Appiah, 78’), Axel Sjöberg, Mekeil Williams; Jared Watts (Marlon Hairston, 55’), Micheal Azira; Dominique Badji, Dillon Powers, Shkëlzen Gashi; Kevin Doyle.

Arizona: Trey Mitchell (Jordan Stagmiller, 60’); Peter Kelly (Tommy Williams, 60’), Julian Ringhof (Brock Granger, 46’), Daniel Antunez (Damian Rosales, 60’), Kalem Scott (Nicholas Costa, 46’); Miguel Timm (Gibson Bardsley, 60’), Blair Gavin (Spencer Johnson, 60’), Sam Garza (Scott Morrison, 60’), Luke Rooney (Jose Cuevas, 60’), Tony Cascio (Jamael Cox, 60’), Chris Cortez (Brandon Swartzendruber, 57’).

Ref: Ismail Elfath

The Rapids season starts on Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m. MT on the road against San Jose Earthquakes, with the Home Opener at Dick's Sporting Goods Park against LA Galaxy on Saturday, March 12 at 5 p.m. MT. For more information or to purchase season tickets, click HERE, or call 303-825-GOAL.