On a wet evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Colorado Rapids were on the wrong end of a 2-1 defeat to Real España. The visitors benefited from costly errors in Colorado's defense that led to a first-half Carlos Pavón brace. Andre Akpan found himself tally his second Champions League goal, but it was not enough as Colorado faces an uphill battle to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals.
Colorado (1-2-1) suffered their second straight defeat in the CCL, and their fifth straight defeat in all competitions. Real España (1-2-1) moved ahead of Colorado in Group B on goal differential as both clubs have four points from four matches. Group B leaders Santos Laguna and Isidro Metapán will play in Torreon, Mexico, on Thursday evening.
Gary Smith fielded a side with many reserves as the Colorado manager wanted to save many starters for the San Jose home fixture on Saturday evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Stewart Ceus made his third consecutive CCL start as Matt Pickens was not even listed on the substitutes bench. Kosuke Kimura started in defense and was joined by Michael Holody, Tyrone Marshall, and Scott Palguta.
Brian Mullan and Wells Thompson handled the wings, while Joseph Nane and Ross Labauex started together in central midfield. Mac Kandji and Andre Akpan started together in attack.
Carlos Pavón opened the scoring in the 12th minute as the Rapids defenders failed to clear the ball properly and were caught ball-watching. The visiting Real España supporters were delighted at the quick lead.
Andre Akpan pulled one back for the home side in the 18th minute. Kandji provided the assist from the right wing, and Akpan made no mistake as the second-year forward buried his shot from inside the penalty area. It was Akpan's second Champions League goal this season.
Pavón doubled his tally courtesy of a Michael Holody error that allowed the Honduran legend to calmly put the ball past Ceus for a two-goal cushion. Holody misjudged the header and inadvertently placed the ball right to an oncoming Carlos Pavón for the breakaway goal.
The Rapids could feel unlucky as they hit the woodwork in the first half, and substitute Jamie Smith nearly tied the game late in the second half with a free kick that curled just wide of the post. Sanna Nyassi and Omar Cummings were also second-half substitutes but could not find their scoring touch.
Colorado have two remaining CCL fixtures left in the group stage, with away trips to El Salvador and Mexico on the horizon to face Isidro Metapán and Santos Laguna, respectively. It is likely the Rapids will have to win both of these matches to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals. Colorado will look to end their losing streak when San Jose Earthquakes come to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday evening in MLS league action.