Colorado Rapids 2 bested Houston Dynamo 2 in a 1-0 victory on Sunday night at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium. With only minutes left in the match, midfielder Philip Mayaka found the back of the net for the third time this season to give Colorado the edge it needed to earn three points on the night.
“The result sometimes should serve as the reward, but if you are Abraham Rodriguez in goal, if you are the back four, if you are guys who are committing themselves to defending, that clean sheet means a lot,” said Erik Bushey, Rapids 2 head coach. “We are happy to get three points against a very good team, a team that is playoff bound, a team that was competing to be top of the division tonight. The boys, I think they earned it.”
The night got off to a hot start with the visiting Houston side making their first attempt at goal in the opening minutes of the match. Colorado quickly gained their composure and got face forward to deliver two promising chances to Anthony Markanich and Mayaka who ripped some early shots into the Houston defense.
The half ticked on with two back to back shots on goal from Darren Yapi in the 19th minute.The striker, who returned for his first game in Rapids 2 attire since August 6, put up three shots on the night with two on target.
In the minutes that followed Yapi’s attempts, a Houston player was shown a red, leaving his team playing at 10 men for nearly 54 minutes of the match. However, in the 76th minute midfielder Ralph Priso received his second yellow for the night, which put the teams back to square one.
Highlighting the match was a performance from the Colorado backline of Blake Malone, Sebastian Anderson, Daniel Garcia and Markanich. The back four managed to keep a dominant Houston attack to zero shots on goal the entire night, helping goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez earn his first clean sheet of the season.
“That is probably one of the biggest accomplishments for the back tonight, is that we were pushing for a goal and the later the game goes, the more we are going to push, and the more we might leave ourselves vulnerable. Yet, we were able to snuff out the attacks any time they threw it at us,” said Bushey.
Colorado entered the second half looking to break open the scoreline as forward Maclovio Swett added an additional shot on goal to up the team’s total to five.
It wasn’t until the 88th minute of the match that a bit of confusion in the box allowed Daouda Amadou to slide a pass through to the feet of Mayaka. Makaya struck the ball in traffic, nailing the far post and earning the Rapids its game winning goal of the night.
With that goal, Mayaka brought his season total to three goals while Amadou recorded his third assist of the season. The team also bumped their unbeaten streak at home to five matches as they rounded out their time at the University of Denver Soccer Stadium.
Rapids 2 will make its final push of the season in Salt Lake City against Real Monarchs. Bushey’s squad will aim to end the season on a high note, taking home the final three points left to earn in their inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season.
"The last game of the season, you always want to end on a high note,” said defender Sebastian Anderson. “It is important to go and get a result there. We don't have the playoffs to push for, but we always have next season. It is just important to go there and get a result, especially away from home."
Rapids 2 will travel to Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday, September 18, to compete against Real Monarchs in the final match of their MLS NEXT Pro season. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. MT and the match will be broadcast on mlsnextpro.com.