Match Report: Cronin's volley sends Rapids to Desert Diamond Cup Championship

In their third contest of the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, the Colorado Rapids kept their unbeaten streak alive after a cagey 1-0 victory over New York City FC. A superb volley in the last play of the first half by Sam Cronin was the difference on Wednesday evening at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.

The Rapids pressed from the start and got their first clear chance of the half from a left-footed shot from Kevin Doyle. The Ireland international was able to create same space for himself at the edge of the box before unleashing a strike that grazed the far post.

Colorado kept pressing and at the 26th minute mark, Marlon Hairston found himself one-on-one against Frédéric Brillant on the left wing. After Hairston seemed to get past Brillant with a touch out wide, the NYCFC defender was able to recover nicely and send Hairston’s attempt for a corner kick.

With 10 minutes to go in the opening period, the Rapids came close once more after a fantastic outswinging cross from Marc Burch that found Dominique Badji all alone at the far post. A bit off balance, Badji got on the end of the ball but he skied it over the bar.

New York City FC’s biggest opportunity came at the 40th minute mark, as Tommy McNamara sent a shot to the top right corner of the goal, forcing an outstanding save from Zac MacMath.

With the last play of the half, the Rapids would finally get on the scoresheet with a clinical volley from Cronin. After a ball was played into the NYCFC box and unable to be cleared by the defense, the rebound floated toward the top of the box. Cronin’s one-time volley found the bottom left corner of the goal, past an outstretched Eirik Johansen.

Mastroeni opted for a full lineup change after the interval, replacing all 11 players that started the match. Meanwhile, New York City FC would make a number of changes throughout the second half.

A much more composed New York City FC side came out looking for the equalizer. Andrea Pirlo's dangerous free kick after 74 minutes forced a two-handed save by Cody Mizell.

On the attacking end, Caleb Calvert used his strength and speed to get in behind defenders but Colorado's chances didn't pose major threats. NYCFC were the more dominant after the break, but they would finish empty-handed as the Rapids' defense held on for their second victory of the tournament.

With 10 days until the 2017 Home Opener against the New England Revolution (TICKETS), the Rapids will battle the Houston Dynamo in the Championship match of the Desert Diamond Cup on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. MT.

BOX SCORE
New York City FC 0-1 Colorado Rapids
Desert Diamond Cup; Kino North Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

SCORING SUMMARY
COL: Sam Cronin (unassisted) 45’

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY
COL: Jared Watts (caution) 27’

Rapids (first half): Zac MacMath; Eric Miller, Jared Watts, Axel Sjöberg, Marc Burch; Micheal Azira, Sam Cronin; Marlon Hairston, Dillon Powers, Dominique Badji; Kevin Doyle.

Rapids (second half): Cody Mizell; Dennis Castillo, Kortne Ford, Bobby Burling, Mekeil Williams; Sam Hamilton, Nana Boateng; Tony Cascio, Ricardo Perez, Liam Callahan; Caleb Calvert.

Referee: Ricardo Salazar

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