Colorado Rapids 2 pulled out a huge three-point win tonight against Whitecaps FC 2 after securing a late game-winning goal in the second half. The 2-1 win saw Philip Mayaka and Maclovio Swett record the two goals of the night while goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez put up a game-high of six saves.  

“We wanted to win, and I feel like we fought every single minute of the game,” said Maclovio Swett. When things got ugly, we just kept wanting to play. In the end, I feel like all of the boys, we respected our opponent, and we got what we deserved."

The mid-week match got off to a slow start for Colorado who struggled to maintain possession in the first half. The Whitecaps’ front two immediately forced goalkeeper Rodriguez to defend his side as he recorded four saves in the first 45 minutes. Joining him in his defensive efforts, Michael Edwards, Blake Malone and Daniel Garcia made crucial defensive plays to keep Vancouver at bay as they put up five shots on goal. 

In the 20th minute of the match, Vancouver’s Simon Becher found the back of the net, sliding one just under the feet of Rodriguez to give the Whitecaps the early lead. The home side ended the half with a 1-0 lead, but a determined Rapids 2 squad came out with confidence in the second half and a desire to find the equalizer. 

“We were able to withstand the pressure that we were under initially. In fact, we were disappointed with the goal that we conceded. We can do better with that and thankfully we did throughout the rest of the game. We had a lot of guys step up and take on more responsibility as the game progressed. We showed we had the ability to sustain some possession and the guys were brave in their efforts to get forward with and without the ball,” said Erik Bushey, Rapids 2 head coach.

The first dangerous scoring opportunity for Colorado came under unusual circumstances with the team earning an indirect free kick in the box off of an error from the Vancouver keeper. Colorado converted the equalizer in the 62nd minute of the match thanks to the quick thinking of Yosuke Hanya who placed the ball down in the box and assisted Philip Mayaka in his second goal of the season. 

"It is a unique play. We will have to learn from it as well because it is an easy one to get punished on,” said Bushey. “The free kick in the box is so close to the goal, it isn't something that happens all too often from the indirect kick standpoint. The focus was elsewhere other than delaying the kick or protecting the goal. The guys deserve a lot of credit for taking advantage of it.”

The second half pushed on with Vancouver adding an additional two shots on goal. However, the Colorado backline continued to apply thick pressure in the box and ultimately stifled the Whitecaps attack. 

In the dying minutes of the second half, the game took a turn in Colorado’s favor when Malone sent a through ball to the feet of Swett. The young forward drove forward with intensity and released a shot from 40 yards out, which skipped beneath the hands of the Canadian keeper to give Colorado the game-winning goal of the night. The goal marked Malone’s first assist of the season while Swett recorded his first-ever professional goal.  

“He got the ball in between the lines. He was able to face forward, and he was driving. We had guys flying in behind him. We had Chava (Keith Chavarria) breaking the line next to him. We had Connor (Miller) screaming down the right side. All of them were thinking that they were going to get it and perhaps that is exactly what the keeper was thinking also. Now, Maclovio hits him and catches the keeper a bit off guard and what a wonderful sight that was seeing the ball hit the back of the net,” said Bushey. 

With a win over Vancouver, the Rapids managed to knock the home side out of the playoff race and secure their sixth win of the season in the process. Rapids 2 now stands at five straight matches unbeaten as they head into the final three games of its inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. 

"As a team, it just shows our character. As a team, as a club, even with the first team, we don't care who we are playing. It doesn't matter if we are at the bottom of the table, middle of the table, top of the table, we just come in like any other game. We just want to win because winning is the best feeling,” said Swett.

Rapids 2 will continue its road journey with a match against Sporting KC II on Monday, September 5 at Mercy Victory Field. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. MT and the match will be broadcast on mlsnextpro.com.