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Cucho scores again, Diego Rubio sets records as Crew draw Rapids

diego rubio sets records

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids hosted Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night. It was Crew’s first game facing former striker Gyasi Zardes. Cucho Hernandez and Diego Rubio shined on the night as a cagy playoff-like game ended tied.

Cucho scores again, Diego Rubio sets records as Crew draw Rapids

The Black and Gold started very well. Hernandez scores just five minutes on. After a good attacking spell, Pedro Santos delivered a ball to the back post. Hernandez made a great run to beat the two fullbacks and finish in the air.

Colorado’s midfield was too easy to play through to start the game. This left the center backs exposed with great movement from Hernandez and Lucas Zelarayan. Their wide players had their way in the final third as well. The Rapids eventually found success with direct play and corners.

Zardes appeared to even the scoring in the 23rd on a rebound of his own shot, but the play was ruled offside. Zardes was off on the pass from Diego Rubio before the initial shot. Colorado would level things up in the 40th. Steven Moreira was called for a handball right off a header from Jonathan Lewis. Rubio nailed the bottom left corner to make it 1-1 at halftime.

It was Rubio’s twelfth goal of the season (a new personal best) and eight game in a row recording a goal contribution.

Both teams tightened up in the second half with no shot attempts in the first 15 minutes. The ball movement was too slow and both sides kept numbers back to inhibit counter attacks. Robin Fraser and Caleb Porter went with a back four in defense and a back three in possession. There was little space to play up the middle.

Sam Nicholson brought energy off the bench for Colorado with a shot in the 69th. Columbus were the aggressor in the final 15. Derrick Etienne Jr. had the best chance in the 77th. He got in behind and William Yarbrough had to come off his line. He tried to dribble past him but Yarbrough reacted well and made a diving save. There was controversy with Michael Barrios keeping the ball in at the end line with space to go at goal, but the linesman called a goalkicking.

The match ended 1-1. Yaya Toure subbed on to play five minutes at the end of the game, getting hurt. He was helped to the bench and ultimately carted off the field after fulltime. Colorado finished the game playing down a man.

Three Thoughts:

Open play and defensive adjustments: The first half was a mess with neither defense playing well. Colorado were outplayed on the wings and midfield spacing were poor. Columbus reacted poorly to Colorado in transition with numbers up field. Both tighter up in the second half, playing more conservatively for a draw. Gyasi Zardes didn’t even have the opportunity to enact revenge in trying to occupy Jonathan Mensah.

“We’ve been preaching concentration and focus for a long time now. It’s a broken play. It’s frustrating. It comes down to us being together and defending well. In terms of why it happens early, it’s hard to say,” Keegan Rosenberry said postgame.

Star strikers as Diego Rubio sets records: Cucho Hernandez has been exactly what Columbus needed in a DP striker. He’s on a tear. If they make playoffs, it will be because of him and Zelarayan. Rubio deserved to take the penalty for Colorado, breaking his MLS goal record. He wasn’t great from the run of play, but is still in All-Star form.

Gritty playoff vibes: This game had a lot of yellow cards. It wasn’t pretty in the second half, feeling like a playoff game. A red card to the Colorado Rapids bench added to the tension.

“Both teams opened up and were vulnerable in transition. They have good attacking players. We found ways into the game and created a couple of half chances. We weren’t as clean in the attacking end. The game ended up being back and forth. Not sure either team deserved to win,” Robin Fraser told Last Word.

Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.


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