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#MINvCOL: Breaking it down

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The Rapids managed their second road win of the season thanks to some surprising key players.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Minnesota United FC Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

After losing seven games in a row, the Colorado Rapids finally won a game on Saturday against Minnesota United, and there was certainly a lot more action than the 2-0 scoreline suggests. This game had two goals called back, countless goal line clearances, three red cards, and a few different scuffles throughout the game. For once, we get to talk about what went right instead of just what went wrong. As always, we start with the goals.

Colorado up 1-0 (61’)

This is a striker’s goal. It starts with Jack Price utilizing the space he is given to pick out a pass that will break lines. From there, Shkelzen Gashi does a clever little flick and Marlon Hairston suddenly finds himself in acres of space.

This is all something the Rapids haven’t done much of lately. Two nice, dynamic passes and the ball has switched the field and left a player in space. All too often in past seven games, that would have been swung around the backline and Hairston would have found himself under pressure when he got the ball.

Yannick Boli then makes a run across the face of his defender toward the near post. By going across the face of the defender he keeps himself onside and gets the inside step. As long as the ball in from Hairston is in front of Boli, he will beat his defender to it.

The ball, as it turns out, was perfect. It goes right to the head of Boli. At this point, he is in front of the near post, but he manages to flick the ball into the top corner on the near side. That is such a hard header.

It’s a good run, a great ball, and a brilliant header. A true striker’s goal.

Colorado up 2-0 (97’)

This one doesn’t really take much a breakdown, but I put it in so we could watch the Rapids score. When it is only your third goal in eight games, you have to enjoy it.

Michael Boxall gets way too relaxed when he tries to send the ball back to his keeper. From there, Niki Jackson is able to latch right onto it and has a pretty nice finish to pull off a 30-yard chip on the half volley.

It’s hard to deny that the Rapids deserved at least two goals on the game, so we have to thank Minnesota for handing us a second.

Other thoughts

We saw some good luck, a key goal, and a pretty impressive youngster on Saturday.

We were lucky not to get scored on early (and really the whole game)

As much as it sucked to watch the ball get cleared off the line three times in a matter of seconds early in the game, we can’t forget that we were lucky not to get scored on early.

After a poor back pass from Cole Bassett, Angelo Rodriguez happened to miss the goal on a one-on-one against Howard in the third minute. A little later, Darwin Quintero missed the ball on a wide-open header.

To me, this was huge. During the seven-game losing streak, the Rapids allowed six goals in the first 22 minutes of the game, including one in at least five of the seven games. The longer the streak went on, the longer you would see heads hang and confidence get shattered.

We may have been lucky not to let up a goal early on, but that luck was needed to keep confidence and a good attitude as the game went on.

Scoring first was huge

Building off the last point, it was paramount that the Rapids score first. When Darwin Quintero scored early in the second half, it felt like the Rapids would start to hang their heads and roll over. Instead, it was called off and the Rapids went on to score the real opening goal. Scoring first sent our confidence flying, and I really think it was the key for the Rapids to be able to fight it out to the end (no pun intended).

Just to back it up, the Rapids are now 5-1-3 when they score first. If they can get the first goal, it’s been big. The problem is that it has only happened nine times in thirty-two games.

Cole Bassett showed some potential

Cole Bassett got his first career MLS start Saturday, and it was a bit of a mixed bag for the 17-year-old. In the beginning of the game, he looked a little nervous. He made a poor pass that allowed Minnesota a breakaway in the first few minutes, and he had a few other, less costly turnovers in the defensive third a little later.

From a positive standpoint, his awareness and decision making was impressive for a 17-year-old. Throughout the whole game, he never got caught on the ball, meaning he knew what he wanted to do with the ball whenever he got it. There were a number of times that he took a ball, turned, and distributed it to an open man that was originally behind him. That shows awareness. He took a man on one-on-one and ended up with a dangerous shot. Those aren’t easy decisions. After an early turnover, he could’ve taken the easy drop pass and never dribbled, but I liked what I saw in his distribution.

He also completed 75% of his passes and a number of them went forward.

MLS Soccer

I’m not saying he was perfect or an MLS All-star, but I was pretty impressed for a 17-year-old making his first start. With the way that he helped drive the ball forward, I am interested in seeing how he can pair with Acosta as the two 8’s on the field. As a partnership, they should do well in getting the ball forward, and Acosta should be able to help Bassett if he needs it. It is at least a partnership I would like to see in the next two games, even if it’s not for a full game.

Was there anything that stuck out to you in the win on Saturday? Let us know in the comments!