Colorado Rapids 2 were defeated by North Texas SC in a 1-3 loss on Saturday evening at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
"Tough game. We knew that coming in,” said Rapids 2 head coach Erik Bushey. “We think the result could have been different than what is what quite honestly. Full respect to the opponent who has come in on the road and put forth a good performance. We had a good start picking off possession, Yapi (Darren Yapi) taking it in for a goal, a well-taken goal. As has been the case in recent weeks, we make a mistake and get punished. In a weird way, I am grateful for that and that is what the league is meant to bring. It is meant to bring quality and that is what we need to improve and to get better.”
The Saturday evening match got off to a quick start with the Rapids offense springing into action in the early minutes of the half. An eager Colorado attack found their first opportunity in the opening minutes of the match as Yosuke Hanya and Darren Yapi applied thick pressure to the Dallas defense. In the fifth minute, Yapi intercepted a rogue pass from the North Texas defense and found himself dribbling up the field in a one on one scenario with the young Dallas keeper. Ultimately, the Colorado forward was able to find the open lane, sending a ball to the far post for the opening goal of the game. Yapi’s Saturday evening goal boosted his position on the Rapids 2 leaderboard, making him the leader in goals of the squad with three to his name this season.
"I felt like I could have capitalized on some goals earlier this season,” said Rapids 2 forward Darren Yapi. “It is good to see that I am now finishing and capitalizing my chances. It is good to see myself on that top of the list now. You know, I am a nine so that's something I have to prioritize, other than pressing and defending and helping my group. It just goes to show that I am working on my finishing every day and I am starting to see the results."
Just two minutes after Yapi’s opening goal, North Texas’ Hope Avayevu received a through ball near the Rapids endline and sent a curling shot to the top bin of the Colorado goal to even the score. Both sides continued to apply offensive pressure throughout the half with North Texas earning five corners and the Rapids putting up an additional two shots. However, a tackle in the box allowed the visiting side to slot home their second goal of the night off of a Bernard Kaumungo penalty kick in the 34th minute.
With the boys in burgundy down by one, Colorado opened the second half with an eagerness to find the equalizer. The first set piece of the second half was earned by North Texas in the 50th minute, which the team took advantage of earning Collin Smith his first of the night.
The remaining 40 minutes were marked by two dangerous free kick opportunities from the home side who were unable to convert in the 53rd and 69th minute. The final opportunity for Colorado came in the extra minutes of the second half when the team earned a late penalty kick. Yapi stood over the ball but was unable to find the back of the net as a diving Antonio Carrera denied Colorado the opportunity.
"You know, it was a tough one because obviously this is one of our best performances from previous matches,” said Yapi. “It was a tough game and I feel like we created good chances in the second half, and we could have pushed for a draw or even a win in the second half. I thought it was much better in the second half. First half we were up and running with my goal, a great start and then we just lost momentum at the end of the first half. Again, the second half was good, the first half was okay. So, it just goes to show that we are learning, and we are getting better as a group."
The match was highlighted by a stellar performance from newcomer Daouda Amadou, who made his first start for the Rapids 2 team on Saturday evening. Amadou also took home his first Man of the Match award for his dynamic presence on both sides of the pitch.
"Well, he is a good player. He is a tough kid,” said Bushey. “He has gotten a few minutes in the last couple of games to at least get his feet wet. He really has only been here for a couple weeks. Certainly, the occasion was not too big for him. So, I am perhaps most pleased that he came out and he was himself. He was an impactful player and I think he will continue to be an impactful player. In fact, I think he will grow in that way. So, a positive start for Daouda and that is the way I look at it."
Rapids 2 will return home on Wednesday, June 8 to take on STL CITY 2 for the second game of the team’s three game homestand. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium. To purchase tickets for the next Rapids 2 match, click here.