Colorado Rapids 2 ended their season with a 2-1 loss to Real Monarchs at Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday night. First team loan Darren Yapi was the lone goal scorer of the night, bringing his season total to six goals.
"Not the way we wanted to go out after a really positive second half of the season,” said Erik Bushey, Rapids 2 head coach. “If you take the game for what it is, you can argue whether we did enough or not to get a better result. Despite giving up the goal in the first half and despite not being at our very best and not having our very best energy, that is so critical to what we do, we actually could have been winning.”
The night kicked off in the opening minutes of the match with Real Monarchs getting on the board in the 8th minute of the game. As the half ticked on, Colorado kept their composure and did well to defend their goal through the Monarchs four shots on target. Leading the defense in their efforts was Blake Malone and Anthony Markanich who both made crucial clearances to keep the win within reaching distance.
"I think we defended the box pretty well most times,” said defender Blake Malone. “It was hard in the first half with the wind and really going against it. Our offense turned into defense with the way the ball would move. I think that we can continue to improve moving and shifting among the backline and prevent ourselves from getting into those spots and having to make the saves.”
The first chance at goal for Colorado came during the 19th minute when Steve Flores carried the ball up the center of the pitch to lay one off to Maclovio Swett. Swett then tapped one through to Yapi who beat the keeper to the ball, but a poor angle prevented the striker from finding the equalizer.
Yapi’s offensive efforts did not end there as he led the team with five shots on the night. In the 56th minute, the striker finally found his opportunity to convert on a deja vu play that saw Swett feed a through ball to Yapi to beat the Monarchs backline on a toe tap into the back of the net.
With both sides level heading into the dying minutes, the Monarchs found the go ahead goal in the 86th minute. Ultimately, the Rapids could not recover from the late second half goal and fell short in their final match of the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season.
Colorado ended the year with a 7-11-6 record with Dantouma “Yaya” Toure leading the team in goals scored with eight this season and Yosuke Hanya heading up the team’s assists with four. As the season draws to a close, the team will look toward the off season to continue to build on the second half momentum as they prepare for year two.
"The next few months will be really important in terms of our development and our push for next year. Where I am sad that the off season has come early, I am excited to get to planning to be better in year two. The league has been a good experience for a lot of players and hopefully others will see it that way. I believe that we will be better next year, and I believe the league will be also,” said Bushey.