The Colorado Rapids snatched its sixth successive home win with a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
A tight game was decided by substitute Dillon Serna, who found the net with a low shot in the 78th minute.
The midfielder had been brought off the bench just two minutes earlier. Seconds after his introduction, visiting defender Ike Opara received a second yellow card for bundling over Jermaine Jones.
It was a frantic finale to a game that took time to catch fire. Sporting KC had chances in the first half but gradually the Rapids took control.
Pablo Mastroeni’s side are still top of the Supporters’ Shield with a record of 7-2-2. Sporting KC drop to 4-6-2.
The Rapids started slowly. Or perhaps it was Sporting KC who started quickly. Either way, the visitors dominated territorially in the opening stages with Brad Davis and Seth Sinovic causing problems down the left. Roger Espinoza blazed their clearest chance over the bar.
The Rapids had been closer to scoring but Sporting KC had controlled the tempo. At the interval, the game was even in every respect.
The Rapids might have taken the lead in the opening seconds after the restart. Marc Burch swung over a free kick and, though Dominique Badji’s shot was saved, he seemed to be hauled down by Sinovic. Ten minutes later, Micheal Azira’s shot was blocked and Jones’ follow up was hacked off the line by Dom Dwyer. Mastroeni’s men were getting closer and closer.
Solignac and Cronin crafted a chance for the former on the left flank. Then, in the 76th minute, Opara blocked Jones on the right and was dismissed. Burch took the free kick, which was cleared to Serna. He moved laterally 25 yards out before whipping a low drive back across goal and into the net.
If defense win Super Bowls, then 1-0 home wins will make you a playoff team.
Make no mistake, this is not just a good start anymore - this is a good team.
Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting Kansas City
May 11, 2016 - Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
COL: Dillon Serna (unassisted) 78’
Shkëlzen Gashi was suffering with sickness ahead of the game and dropped out. He was replaced by Dominique Badji. Otherwise Rapids kept the same line-up that had seen off Real Salt Lake at the weekend.
Colorado Rapids: Zac MacMath, Mekeil Williams, Bobby Burling, Axel Sjöberg, Marc Burch, Micheal Azira, Sam Cronin, Jermaine Jones (Dillon Powers 87’), Luis Solignac (Dillon Serna 76’), Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle.
Subs not used: Chris Froschauer, Jared Watts, Dennis Castillo, Marlon Hairston, Conor Doyle.
Sporting KC: Tim Melia, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Ike Opara, Nuno Coelho, Seth Sinovic (Amadou Dia 31’), Lawrence Olum, Roger Espinoza, Soni Mustivar, Brad Davis (Jacob Peterson 76’), Jimmy Medranda (Connor Hallisey 68’), Dominic Dwyer.
Subs not used: Alec Kann, Matt Besler, Paulo Nagamura, Diego Rubio.
COL: Dominique Badji (caution) 33’
SKC: Ike Opara (caution) 56’
SKC: Lawrence Olum (caution) 59’
SKC: Dominic Dwyer (caution) 61’
COL: Axel Sjöberg (caution) 75’
SKC: Ike Opara (caution/ejection) 76’
Colorado Rapids: 7-2-2 (23 points)
Sporting Kansas City: 4-6-2 (14 points)