COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids hosted Los Angeles FC for a Saturday afternoon MLS matinee. Both teams had to rotate the lineup having played midweek in the U.S. Open Cup. Backup goalkeeper John McCarthy and Francisco Ginella started. Danny Wilson got his first start in several weeks coming off a hamstring injury.
Two Early Colorado Rapids Penalties See the Pids Beat LAFC 2-0
The first half was uneventful outside of free kicks. Carlos Vela had a few looks on direct free kicks. Danny Wilson had a great header saved in the opening minutes and was robbed just before halftime by McCarthy.
Things got going 15 minutes in. Diego Rubio took a high boot in the air on a free kick from Sebastien Ibeagha. Referee Ted Unkel called the penalty. Gyasi Zardes stepped up and went top right to open his Rapids account.
Then in the 24th minute, Jonathan Lewis went down in the box after Ginella ran into him shoulder-to-shoulder. Diego Rubio was initially denied but was determined by video review to have come off his line early. Rubio went upper left the second time to make it 2-0.
LAFC responded with a good start to the second half. José Cifuentes missed a sitter right in front of goal in the opening minute. Colorado sat back in the second half and looked to counter. With numbers behind the ball, Vela and company struggled to create from the run of play.
The two sides traded chances in the final 10 minutes. Zardes and Auston Trusty both hit the post on the same free kick sequence. Cristian Arango was denied from a sharp angle by William Yarbrough on a kick save moments later. The match ended 2-0.
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Three Thoughts on the Match:
Early penalties make it easy: Colorado had a wild week with their Open Cup game at Minnesota being delayed a day due to weather. That Wednesday game was restarted Thursday afternoon. Flight issues meant they didn’t get back to Denver until Friday morning. Two early penalties got them a lead. They could sit back instead of chase the game. It made defending LAFC easier, especially on tired legs.
Zardes gets his goal: Colorado’s struggled to be goal dangerous without Rubio doing the heavy lifting. They had their moments in transition and made the PKs count. Zardes got his first goal for the club. That should help his confidence going forward.
LAFC finally has a dud of a game: The black and gold have been fantastic this year. This was just their second loss of 2022. They did not look themselves. Giving up two goals in the opening 30 made it an uphill battle. Ryan Hollingshead was subbed out with an injury in the 40th minute, moving Kellyn Acosta to right back, taking some of the bite out of their midfield (which is Colorado’s weakness right now). With the opponent able to concede possession, swarm Vela, and prevent counter attacks. This game was a dud for them. They deserved to lose. This is MLS. It happens.
Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.