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Diego Rubio shines as Colorado Rapids punk Atlanta in home opener

The Rapids’ 2022 MLS Home Opener went about as well as you could hope for.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids opened up their MLS home slate with an early kickoff and snow in the forecast once again. The snow didn’t fall, but the goals did as the Burgundy Boys buried Atlanta United F.C. 3-0 in an all-out showing.

The matchup with Atlanta saw just one change to Colorado’s season opener as Michael Barrios stepped into midfield for Max Alves. The Rapids hoped to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to open MLS play at LAFC.

In the eighth minute, Atlanta had the night’s first look at goal as they slid a ball attacking to the right side of the box, but Colorado keeper William Yarbrough came up big with a close-quarters kick save.

A lovely through ball from Diego Rubio in the 11th minute found Barrios running in on the right. His pass across goal just missed connecting to Johnny Lewis on Colorado’s first good foray into the box. For the first 20 minutes, Colorado kept Atlanta from their possession and quick passing that they showed so much of last weekend. The visitors began asserting their pressure a bit more after that, however, as play started going back and forth.

Barrios grabbed the loose ball on a long cross from Estevez to the right in the 33rd minute. Mikey’s chipped ball to the far post was then read perfectly by Diego Rubio, who had bodied off his defender, and headed it spot-on to the far post left for the Rapids lead.

The goal seemed to energize both sides as a flurry of good chances started to show. Another glorious opportunity shown for the Rapids in the 39th minute off a pinpoint low cross by Auston Trusty. His ball went to the feet of Lewis at the near post but his tap in drifted just wide left.

Atlanta almost took advantage of a 44th-minute corner kick to equalize, but Miles Robinson’s squared-up header sailed harmlessly over the bar.

Just before halftime, Wilson, still up from a Rapids C.K., poked a nice header to the left post, but it went just wide of the mark.

Atlanta’s Josef Martinez then flubbed his line on a quick countered long ball which was redirected into the Colorado penalty area. With only Yarbrough to stop him, Martinez scuffed the ball and fell to the ground without getting a shot off at the halftime whistle.

The second half started with a defensive substitute for the Rapids, and Wilson stayed in the locker room with a possible leg issue. Steven Beitashour came on as a left fullback, and Keegan Rosenberry stepped over to the backline.

However, in just the 48th minute, Rubio again was involved to push Colorado’s action. He picked up a loose ball in the Atlanta third on the right and placed a perfect ball into the box for Lewis to calmly knock past Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan’s left and double the lead.

Yarbrough kept things there with a nice fingertip push over the crossbar 5 minutes later off a dangerous Atlanta chance. Colorado then stepped up their defensive effort as a group all over the field to frustrate the visitors. Substitutes Collen Warner and Bryan Acosta amped up the energy already shown by Price in the midfield.

Colorado ended the night on a high wave, as Andre Shinyashiki finished off a delicious ball cut back from Estevez driving in from the left. The second-half substitute calmly got the ball out of his feet in between four defenders and beat Guzan to send the crowd home buzzing over a 3-0 scoreline.

Danny Wilson left the match at halftime with a hamstring injury.

The Rapids will host Sporting Kansas City next Saturday.