Diego Rubio Leads Rapids to win in Home Opener Over Atlanta

Diego Rubio leads
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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – It was just what Rapids Twitter wanted to see. Colorado Rapids hosted Atlanta United in their MLS home opener on Saturday afternoon. The temperatures were just above freezing at kick off, but behind Diego Rubio, the Rapids would heat things up in response to a terrible previous week.

Diego Rubio Leads Rapids to win in Home Opener Over Atlanta

The first half was energetic, though the quality was lacking at times. Josef Martinez appeared to be in on a breakaway in the 14th minute. He ran in on goal and shot over the bar. The linesman put his flag up after that as the striker was offside. The Five Stripes had a good attacking spell in the 25th minutes, but the Rapids emergency defending was up to the task.

Referee Joseph Dickerson was a bit card happy, issuing four yellow cards in the first half as he was not letting tactical fouls slide.

Diego Rubio scored his first of the year on 33 minutes. Building out of the back, Lucas Esteves sent a cross through the box. Michael Barrios ran it down and put it back into the area. Rubio beat out Alan Franco to head the ball in.

The match ended with both teams missing good chances. Danny Wilson missed a header on the back post then Martinez lost the ball in the box on a potential breakaway. Wilson was subbed off at half due to a potential hamstring injury associated with his scoring chance.

“We knew that we had to work well and cohesively and collectively, defensively, to make things difficult for them. I thought collectively we did well and you have to be able to stop teams that are good attacking teams. And as a result, we won balls in some good areas. I can’t stress enough how well we worked collectively,” Robin Fraser told Last Word post game.

Colorado scored just three minutes into the second half. William Yarbrough played the ball long on a goal kick. Rubio won the second ball, got past two defenders then crossed it into the box. Jonathan Lewis timed up his run and volleyed the ball past Brad Guzan.

Minutes later, George Campbell was denied from close range on a header off a free kick. Yarbrough made a great reaction save, deflected the ball over the bar. The teams traded chances before the 86th minute when Miles Robinson was called for a foul on Rubio. In the spirit of a tactical foul, Dickerson gave the American International a second yellow card.

Seconds later, Lucas Esteves played substitute Andre Shinyashiki in on goal to score as the match ended 3-0.

Three Key Takeaways:

Just what they needed: This was the performance and result Colorado needed after the failure in CCL and the league opener. Three goals, goal contributions from four strikers, and a clean sheet. The only negative was Wilson’s injury.

“For us, I don’t want to say it’s relief. We know we can score goals. But it is a big confidence boost. We know we can hang with other teams in the attack,” said Lewis post game.

Chilly conditions: It wasn’t football weather. Colorado seemed to deal with it better than the visitors. Ball control was not the best, as expected given the weather.

Yellow cards: The officiating was tight in this match as eight yellow cards were handed out in this game. This caused several players to have to be more conservative with their challenges in the second half. Robinson was the unlucky one, getting a second yellow with the game effectively over.

Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.