As we all pushed our clocks ahead for the season and Colorado welcomed back fan-favorite Kortne Ford, The Colorado Rapids sought to extend their 18-game unbeaten streak against I-70 rival Sporting Kansas City on a windy night in Commerce City.
Both sides missed starters due to injury. Rapids defender Danny Wilson sat out to protect the slight hamstring issue suffered against Atlanta, Steven Beitashour slotting in the backline, while SKC was missing Daniel Salloi in attack.
Colorado connected from a couple of nice long balls from Beitashour and Keegan Rosenberry in the first quarter-hour, but nothing resulted in direct danger to SKC keeper Tim Melia. The Rapids seemed to be ok with SKC’s possession just over midfield but didn’t allow much inside of that.
In the 21st minute, Lucas Estevez made a nice carrying run with possession from the left flank into the middle, threading a perfectly weighted ball for Diego Rubio at the penalty spot. Rubio timed his onside run exactly and easily tapped it past Melia for the lead.
Colorado almost doubled that advantage minutes later, but Barrios one on one with the keeper was denied by the quick hands of Melia.
Scary moment in the 38th minute for Rapids fans as the two defenders on the far sideline gambled, lost, and watched SKC drive into their box. However, the shot was deflected out for a corner kick and no trouble came from the stretch of play in Colorado’s penalty area.
Colorado keeper William Yarbrough immediately came up huge on another SKC corner as his sprawled to his right and snatched the ball on the goal line to keep the Rapids lead intact! The half ended with SKC exerting a bit of pressure but the scoreline stayed 1-0.
An absolutely stellar combination play from a Rapids CK produced the second goal on the night for Colorado. Jack Price put a ball right on the foot of Beitashour at the far side of the box in the 52nd minute. His hammered volley into the six-yard box was deftly re-directed by Mark-Anthony Kaye near post past a helpless Melia and the 2-0 strike.
As much as SKC tried to force play in attack, Colorado pressed a nice high line defensively and kept things clear for the next 15 minutes when Drew Moor came on in relief for Estevez, who had to exit due to injury. Another stellar reaction save by Yarbrough immediately after a dangerous Johnny Russell freekick came out for an SKC corner again SKC off the board.
A nice moment in the 80th minute saw longtime Rapids homegrown defender Kortne Ford make his return to the pitch where he started his career. After a lengthy injury rehab, a good stint in San Antonio last season, and a move to Kansas City the past off-season, it was fitting to see Ford get back to MLS in Colorado.
On the night, the Rapids weathered a few tense patches of play but, for the large part, kept SKC on their heels with some good high pressure on the wings. Colorado also continued their habit of reacting well when needed in numbers, and then re-set back three, with Beitashour and Estevez at fullback, did an excellent job locking things down for a second straight shutout and 18th consecutive unbeaten match at home.
Of note: Seb Anderson and Darren Yapi both made their season debuts late in the contest.
Rapids head to Houston next week for a 6:30 p.m. kick. The next home game will be the first leg of Rocky Mountain Cup on April 2.