Remember last season, when the Colorado Rapids marched down to Florida for their first (and only) Open Cup match of 2013? Oscar Pareja had claimed he was going to go for the Open Cup in a way that most Rapids head coaches never had, but his actions spoke louder than his words as we instead saw a smattering of random players, led by Steward Ceus, drop a 3-1 result down in Orlando.
This season, they had another chance against Orlando, this time at home, and they took full advantage of it. Pablo Mastroeni had the World Cup break to thank for some fresh legs all around, but he still had to make the decision to play a full first-team lineup. Play that lineup he did, and the Rapids reaped the benefits with a 5-2 victory and a trip to the next round of the Cup.
I don't want to say that Steward Ceus not playing and singlehandedly giving up the game to the Lions this time was the reason why, but I'm not going to say that isn't the reason.
Deshorn Brown was the star of the day, putting in a hat trick -- his first as a professional -- while Nick Labrocca and Dillon Powers also managed to find the scoresheet. Orlando City had a few moments of dangerous play, specifically their early goal and a few chances from set pieces, but it was clear who the better team were through the 90 minutes. In addition to giving the Rapids a win, it was also a chance for Pablo to give some injured guys time on the field; both Edson Buddle and Vicente Sanchez saw minutes, with the Wily Old Wizard setting up the fifth and final goal of the match.
Next up, the Rapids will face off against the Atlanta Silverbacks, thanks to the NASL side's knockdown of Real Salt Lake. That match will be at Dick's Sporting Goods Park as well, giving the Rapids what looks like a surprisingly easy route to the quarterfinals of the competition. Will Pablo play such a strong line-up in games after the World Cup break has ended? That's something to watch as the Open Cup continues.