The Colorado Rapids took on Charlotte FC for the first time ever Saturday night; the Burgundy Boys brought a bit of a different look, including their road Class 5 kits to their home turf, as Gustava Vallecilla made his first start for the club and Steven Beitashour also slotted into the lineup from last weekend’s fixture in Minnesota.
The first quarter-hour was primarily Colorado controlling pushes into Charlotte’s defending third with some quick passing from Mark-Anthony Kaye and good pressure in the box from the front three of Diego Rubio, Andre Shinyashiki, and Michael Barrios. With the best look in the ninth minute, it was Rubio enjoying a ton of space and time at the top of the box to line up a blistering shot that caromed off the right upper corner of the crossbar.
Another spot of bad luck in the 24th minute for Rubio, as seems to be happening a lot lately, after a great control and push into the box with the ball by Shinyashiki. His short cross for Diego on the doorstep looked to be roofed for the lead, but again it only found the underside of the crossbar and away from trouble.
Colorado began giving way to some of Charlotte’s willingness to put more attackers forward for a spell later in the half, causing the Rapids backline to be more active. Lalas Abubakar and Vallecilla were called into action, clearing away a few more forays into their defending third, and the fullbacks stayed back a bit more, but the visitors didn’t show much of a threat in the end.
The second half started with three consecutive clearances by Colorado for Charlotte's corner kicks in a bit of a nervy couple of minutes. Rapids keeper William Yarbrough then turned in two consecutive world-class saves to keep the clean sheet from inside the penalty area as Colorado scrambled to clear the ball from their own end.
Gyasi Zardes made his Rapids debut as part of a three-man substitution group in the 60th minute along with Lucas Estevez and Jonathan Lewis. If Colorado was going to use altitude to their advantage, that time had come. The Rapids almost did that as they had multiple attackers in front of the six yard box in Charlotte’s end, but Estevez’s ball sent in was the right idea, although blocked away for a corner kick in the 64th minute.
Robin Fraser’s side definitely didn’t leave much effort unspent as the rest of the half wore on. Max came on late as the Rapids pushed for the game-winner on what looked like a bit of a frustrating final 30 minutes for the home crew. Yarbrough was called upon one last moment in stoppage time as Charlotte got a step behind the defense into the box, but the stellar Colorado keeper palmed away the shot on a dive to his right to keep things even. In the end, all the Rapidsattackers couldn’t break through a stout Charlotte group effort, and shared points were settled for in Colorado’s 20th home match unbeaten.
Jack Price did get injured in the first half and left the match early.