This Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified Team match report is brought to you by Dick's Sporting Goods.
In the first match of the 2017 season, the Rapids' Special Olympics Unified Team defeated the Columbus Crew SC Special Olympics Team 1-0 on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Following pre-game warmups for both teams, and the reading of the Special Olympics Athlete Oath by Mackenzie Beauvais-nikl, the teams took to the field for what turned out to be a strong, defensive battle.
Columbus controlled most of the possession in the first half through Craig Green, Jacquelyn Green and Kayla Kauzlarich, but the Rapids Unified Team found the net when midfielder Scotty Stephens scored the first and only goal of the night in the 14th minute, after receiving an excellent pass from Alie Goldblatt.
At halftime, the crowd were treated to a recap of the Rapids’ Shop with a Jock outing at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a special edition of Rapids Live, with interviews from both Rapids’ athlete Colton Rice and Crew SC athlete John Morales Ibarra.
The second half was marked by excellent defensive work from Colorado’s Jonathan Stephens and Azur Ewari, which translated to a couple of excellent runs. Ultimately, the match ended with the Rapids' Unified Team coming out on top with a 1-0 victory.
Rapids’ Team President Tim Hinchey and Sporting Director Pádraig Smith greeted each athlete with a handshake and a medal following the match. Several Rapids first team players were present as well, cheering on both teams.
The Rapids’ Special Olympics Unified Team’s next match is set for Saturday, August 19 when D.C. United and Special Olympics D.C. make their way to Colorado.