The Colorado Rapids 2 enjoyed their second home game of the young season at the University of Denver campus on a perfect Colorado day. The lineup featured a nice mix of Rapids 2 stalwarts, plus Rapids first-teamers - midfielder Collen Warner and goalkeeper Clint Irwin in the starting eleven - as midfielder Robinson Aguirre is away with the El Salvador National Team.
Rapids 2 wasted no time grabbing the lead as they pushed the ball deep into the left side in possession. The cross from Jackson Travis came back to the middle top of the box, where Yosuke Hanye hammered a shot inside the right post for the 1-0 lead.
“The runs are always going to change,” Travis told Burgundy Wave, explaining the first goal sequence. “When you’ve got the ball, you’ve got to be looking up because everything’s changing. When I got the ball, I saw Yosuke making the run, just tried to ping it in there, and he took care of it.”
“Our center backs are really good putting that ball into space. They know me and Seb (Anderson) on the wings; we have some pace, so put the ball there, and we’re going to go get it, and we’ll get crosses in,” Travis continued. “That was the job to get the ball into spaces and get crosses in.”
Just four minutes later, Portland allowed another dangerous chance to Colorado inside their own box. When the initial shot came off the right post back into play, Warner pounced on the loose ball and finished easily for the 2-0 home lead.
Both Anderson and Philip Mayaka emphasized how helpful it was to have an MLS veteran like Warner lining up in the midfield because it allowed Rapids 2 to keep pushing forward into space, knowing there was such a stout anchor in the middle. “Collen’s a very good anchor player,” explained Anderson. “He did very well today to be just calm and confident on the ball so it allowed us to take up the wide spaces we wanted to. We have that confidence in him and (Phillip) Maya(ka) that they’re going to keep the ball, and we can get into those areas that mess with those players.”
“Before the game, he told me I should move forward,” said Mayaka, who was slotted next to Warner in midfield. “To occupy that space, because they have two (No.) eights marking us. I was playing off him because he was giving me instruction and I knew it was right every time.”
Portland put together their first good look at Colorado’s goal in the 53rd minute after a Rapids giveaway. The shot got Irwin moving to his left, but the ball clanked off the post and away from trouble. Then just three minutes later, another ball into Colorado’s box was sailed into the lacrosse field behind the stadium.
Darren Yapi stemmed the tide for Rapids 2 in the 56th minute by running onto another nice through ball from Travis for Colorado. One-on-one with the keeper, Yapi poked it through at the near post for the 3-0 lead.
Colorado played a possession game for much of the remaining second half, not really giving Timbers 2 much chance to do anything with the ball. Late on, Portland then sprung Peters with a long ball as he raced past the halfway line with Anderson on his hip to go one-on-one with Irwin. He coolly slotted it home to Clint’s left and ruined the shutout for Colorado.
The visitors threw anything and everything forward for the final ten minutes, but Rapids 2 held on at the back and posted the solid win as they now hit the road for their next two matches, beginning with a tough matchup against Houston next weekend.
Travis said after seeing themselves at the bottom of the table on a picture Head Coach Erik Bushey showed them; they came out with something to prove in their first home game in a couple of weeks. “This is something we needed for our confidence. We haven’t been performing to the quality that we know we can perform at, so coming out today, that was a message.”
“We had to come out and we needed to get three points because we go into next week and play a very strong opponent. This is really going to help us go into that game with a little confidence and will allow us to play our best.”