The Colorado Rapids Unified Team defeated the Real Salt Lake Unified Team 3-1 in front of a mutually supportive crowd at DICK’s Sporting Park this past Saturday evening, after MLS Rapids hosted Real Salt Lake. The victory brought considerable delight to those fans that stayed on to watch the Unified teams square off.
Rapids’ first-team players Jack Price, Tommy Smith, and Zac MacMath stayed after their match to both offer advice and cheer the Rapids Special Olympics squad on. Their compelling pregame counseling was taken to heart by the Rapids’ SO team.
Colorado’s striker Samir Mohamed bagged two goals on swift breakaways in both halves, while midfielder Grant Ho drilled a Shkëlzen Gashi-esque goal over the outstretched arm of Real’s keeper from 20 plus yards out in the second half. Rapids keeper Luis Miranda played exceptionally strong in front of his net. He made a spectacular save in the first half when he leaped up and tipped an incoming shot up and over the crossbar. Center back Dallas Parell played stellar defense. His back line kept Real’s formidable offense at bay for most of the match.
The Rapids’ Unified team is comprised of players both with and without intellectual disabilities between the ages of 16 and 35. The 17-player squad features four graduates, five seniors, five sophomores, and three juniors. This season Colorado partnered with Rangeview High School Unified Soccer Team from Aurora. This is their seventh year of play. The Unified MLS program is a result of a partnership between Special Olympics and MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative.
Photo gallery from the match: