It was your typical U.S. Open Cup match, the Colorado Rapids absorbed the early pressure of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks and finally scored some goals, the second time this season they scored four in a match. They defeated the Switchbacks 4-1 on a beautiful evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The evening say the debut of Joe Greenspan in Rapids burgundy and the return to the lineup of Dillon Serna and Shane O'Neill.
The pairing of Greenspan and O'Neill was strong all evening. O'Neill used his MLS and international experience to contain the Switchbacks attackers in a physical match. Greenspan opened his account with the Rapids heading home a Dillon Serna free kick. I was quite impressed with Greenspan and can see what the Rapids saw in him. He will be a good player in MLS.
Goals from Badji, Serna and Greenspan plus an own goal were how the Rapids scored. A late brain freeze left the Switchbacks Jordan Burt open on the back post and he shot it past MacMath.
Here is how I saw the match.
Zac MacMath (7): He was rarely troubled in the match. He made one big save in the first half that would have given the Switchbacks the lead. Otherwise he was solid in goal when called upon. He didn't have a chance on the Switchbacks goal.
Marlon Hairston (6): Hairston played right back and it was good to get him some time and work at that position. He did a good job running the line and helping out with the width. He took a knock on a corner but came back on and looked okay.
Joe Greenspan (8): You can't ask for more on your debut. He was strong on the backline and grew into the match as it went along. Those nerves seemed to disappear. He towered over everyone on the free kick and put a header back across goal where it went in off the post. And he stood at attention during the National Anthem.
Shane O'Neill (8): The experience of Shane O'Neill showed on as he took on a big and fast attacker for the Switchbacks. They had some physical battles and O'Nell seemed to win all the confrontations. You could also see him organizing the backline and MacMath throughout the match. I hope he starts Friday.
James Riley (7): James Riley was much quicker and stronger than what the Switchbacks could throw at him, he always seemed to get to the ball first. His experience in that position also helped. He helped minimize the attacks and launched the counters as the Rapids focused on attacking from the left for most of the first half.
Sam Cronin (7): He wore the armband and was solid. There wasn't much need for the two defensive midfielders for the entire match and he did a good job of switching with Lucas Pittinari in getting up on attack. He had a beautiful pass to get the assist on Badji's goal. It just froze the two centerbacks.
Lucas Pittinari (5): While Pittinari was on the pitch he had a quiet night. He wasn't bad but nothing stood out. I am wondering if this is how Pittinari plays. No mistakes from him that I can remember.
Nick LaBrocca (5): Nick La Brocca will do all for his team, but I always wonder why he is out there sometimes. I guess this was a good match for him to play a full 90. There was one point where he could have got into the attack take up the wide right position. But he choose to hang back. This killed the attack when there was no one to pass to. If there is space on the right, the right attacking midfielder should be out there.
Dillon Serna (9): Dillon Serna had one heck of a game. He played really well in number 10 roll, the central attacking midfielder. He was causing problems for the Switchbacks back line all evening. He got his goal just after the red card was issued to Switchbacks Josh Phillips. He went 1 v 2 and beat the two defenders, putting a laser past the goalie. He was crashing back post on the own goal. If that ball got through, he was putting in the net. He was lucky not to see red, but the embellishment by the Switchbacks player probably made it look worse than it was.
Charles Eloundou (7): Eloundou carried the attacking presence for the Rapids in the early part of the match. The Switchbacks defense had a hard time handling him when he was running with pace at them. He almost opened the scoring beating the goalkeeper but putting it off the crossbar. He had several good dribbling sequences but didn't manage to put the ball in the back of the net.
Dominique Badji (8): Badji looked dangerous all match. He almost scored in the opening minutes but was called for a foul on the goalkeeper. It looked like a 50/50 play to me, but alas the inexperienced referee called it a foul. On his goal, he made the perfect run and was able to tip it around the goalie. I hope the Rapids make a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup so Badji can get some good game minutes.
Marcelo Sarvas (6): Sarvas came on for Cronin and took over the armband. He made some attacking runs but this was nothing more than some time to shake the rust off as he comes back from knee surgery. Look for some more time from Sarvas on Friday evening.
Luis Solignac (7): Luis was getting under the skin of the Switchbacks backline. I don't think the plan was for him to come on. But after Badji was taken out in the bad tackle, he came on and disrupted things. After the Switchbacks goal, he took the ball, got to the endline and crossed it where the Switchbacks player put it in the net.
Drew Moor (5): Drew came on also, I am assuming to get some time after missing the last couple of matches. But he came on as a left back. He showed some rustiness and appeared out of position on the goal. That is where the goal was scored from. Though he played that position before, I don't think that is his best position.
That is how I saw it. For those that were there, what did you think?