Colorado Rapids 2 earned a point in a 2-2 draw to STL CITY2 on Wednesday night at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
"Tough game,” said Rapids 2 head coach Erik Bushey. “We knew that coach Hackworth would have his guys organized and prepared. I think they came out and played on the front foot. They put us under some duress early on. They had a few chances in our box and they made the most of it. So, it was a tough game against a good opponent, but it is what we expected."
The match against STL CITY2 kicked off in rare form with 11 Rapids first team loans making up the starting lineup for the Wednesday night MLS NEXT Pro game. STL CITY2 immediately applied the pressure to the Rapids backline, pressing their way up the pitch in the early minutes of the match. In the ninth minute, CITY2’s Akil Watts collected a deflection off of his first shot in the box, sending a strike into the back of the Rapids’ net for the first goal of the night. Down by one, Colorado continued to challenge the St. Louis keeper in the attacking third with Gyasi Zardes and Michael Barrios leading the team in attacking opportunities. The home side ended the half with eight shots and two on goal as the team pushed to even the score.
The second half started out strong for the Rapids with Jonathan Lewis finding two early looks at goal. Ultimately, a 58th minute 20-yard screamer from Collen Warner put Colorado back into the game and secured Warner his second Rapids 2 goal of the season. However, the Rapids weren’t able to hold on to the 1-1 tie for long as CITY2’s Wan Kuzain found space in the box to send the second St. Louis goal barrelling into the back of the net.
With the second half drawing to a close, the Rapids found one more opportunity in the 95th minute after earning a free kick just outside of the box. Nicolas Mezquida stood over the ball and sent a curling shot past the St. Louis keeper to even the score once again, sending both teams into a MLS NEXT Pro shootout.
“I think the guys deserve a lot of credit for playing 90 plus minutes and staying in the fight,” said Bushey. “We had some chances where their keeper came up big. I thought he had a massive game. We probably missed some chances that perhaps next time we would do better with, but that's the game. So, they made the most of their chances and we are grateful for two great strikes that we had from Warner (Collen) and Nico (Nicolas Mezquida). So, yeah we are disappointed with the draw, but we love to get the point back at the death. So, as always we will analyze the game and look at the positives, but there are many good things to look back on.”
With the match tied 2-2 in regulation, the Rapids’ Nicolas Mezquida, Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi, Collen Warner and Max Alves all stepped up to take shots from the penalty spot. Ultimately, a save from CITY2’s goalkeeper Michael Creek secured the away team the extra point in a 3-4 shootout win.
“For us first team players for example, we have a two and a half week break between our next game and instead of scrimmaging each other, we are able to come out here and play against some of the other competition that play other formations, different shapes,” said Rapids first team forward Gyasi Zardes. “So, it is allowing us to stay game fit and stay ready so we can prepare for our next opponent too. This platform is not only benefiting us, but also that next generation of players that are coming through the cycle."
Rapids 2 will return home on Sunday, June 12 to take on Real Monarchs for the third 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.