Unfortunately, the meteorologists were spot-on with their forecast for the Colorado Rapids’ Concacaf Champions League match against Comunicaciones F.C. in Commerce City Wednesday. Even with single-digit air temperatures and the well below zero windchill value at kickoff, that didn’t stop a decent number of boisterous fans wrapped in Guatemalan flags, though, as they seemed to equal Rapids fans in voice if not numbers.
Three changes to the Rapids lineup from leg one in Guatemala started the night as Max and Michael Barrios stepped into the attack and Mark-Anthony Kaye joined in the central midfield.
Colorado took charge early as a solid chance for defender Danny Wilson materialized inside the box. Off a Jack Price corner kick from the left, the ball bounced around the box and found the feet of Wilson. His shot to the keeper’s left was saved on the cold turf.
Things got interesting quickly as tempers started to flare and cards came out. Auston Trusty went down after a challenge on the sideline by Stheven Robles, and in the aftermath, Kaye came in to protect his teammate. Kaye saw yellow, but after a VAR check on the challenge, Robles was shown a straight red card and sent off in the 16th minute giving Colorado the man advantage.
In the 27th minute, a nice buildup from Barrios on the left found Kaye in the center, but his shot sailed wide right. However, the next minute Colorado made the visitors pay. Max latched onto a chipped ball from Rosenberry on the left and calmly knocked it home for his first Rapids goal and the tie-equalizing 1-0 lead.
A few more decent looks at goal from corner-kicks in the Comunicaciones box ended the half but nothing was really on-target as both teams left the snow coming down at halftime.
As the snow picked up as the 2nd half progressed, Colorado was able to keep their pressure on the visitors early on. However, as the conditions became worse, Comunicaciones seemed to start going for broke a bit more and looked for either a flukey goal or the conditions to give them a bit of an equalizing factor.
In the 66th minute, another Price corner kick was directed to the top of the box for Barrios, whose low shot found its way through traffic but right to the keeper for the save.
After the 70th minute, Rapids HC Robin Fraser showed his wasn’t playing for penalty kicks in the conditions. Substitutes Jonathan Lewis and Andre Shiniyashiki came in to push forward for the winner. Kaye caused real trouble for the visitors in the 77th minute floating a ball from a distance to the back post, but his effort was just tipped away by the keeper.
Then in the 80th, Comunicaciones keeper Kevin Moscoso made the save of the match as Shiinyashiki found Barrios over the top on the right behind the defender 1-on-1 with Moscoso, Barrios’ touch was just out in front and sliding out to grab the sure chance brought a groan from the Rapids crowd.
The Rapids thought the breakthrough finally showed up in the 89th minute as a slick ball from Lewis on the left across the box found the feet of Rubio at the right. He calmly left-footed it on the doorstep past a helpless keeper. However, after a VAR check, Rubio was deemed a hair offsides and the goal taken away.
It went on the slick pitch in front of the C38 supporter’s section to penalty kicks. Both keepers came up with colossal clutch saves, and the crossbar denied shooters from both sides. Still, Moscoso and Comunicaciones outlasted Colorado after seven spot-kicks and the Rapids ended their CCL run.