The streak is over. The Colorado Rapids’ unbeaten run at home has ended at 23.
The night began friendly enough, as the “2010 MLS Cup Family Reunion” was in full force Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and fans finally got the chance to welcome back Coaches Gary Smith, Steve Guppy, and players Matt Pickens and Kosuke Kimura, as well as recent former-Rapid Eric Miller…..and what a return it would be for the visitors?!
For the Rapids, Auston Trusty returned after his enforced match away, along with Gyassi Zardes back healthy and Anthony Markanich making his second straight start after an impressive outing last week.
Interestingly, the Rapids started the match a bit more passive, choosing to defend somewhat more carefully in the opening minutes instead of going right at Nashville the way they usually do at home in altitude. An innocuous-looking FK turned into a disaster for Colorado in the 8th minute.
After Danny Wilson cleared the freekick, the ball was recovered and sent back in by Nashville to the far left post and knocked down. One player missed, but CJ Sapong was sitting behind William Yarbrough for the tap-in. After a VAR check for offsides, the goal was given and the Rapids were stunned to be down 1-0 early.
The match went from bad to worse as Mukhtar received a feed from Lovitz on the left and carried it into the box amongst multiple defenders. From a tough angle, he took a chance, and his blast snuck by Yarbrough at his near post for the shocking 2-0 deficit.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, just two minutes later, a short, chipped cross to the center of the penalty area was headed down by an unmarked Mukhtar for a 3-0 deficit, not even a quarter-hour in. It was almost as if only one team started this match?? Tragedy nearly struck again in the 21st minute for Colorado as another Mukhtar foray into the box brought Yarbrough way out, but the deflected shot was ushered slowly out by Lalas Abubakar inches from the left post.
The Rapids mustered their first solid dangerous chance in the 38th minute as Rubio gathered just inside the top of Nashville’s area. His turn, then blast, was a nice sequence, but the ball sailed inches wide left post.
As one would expect, Colorado had to shake things up in the second half, so Michael Barrios started with Mark Anthony-Kaye and Max coming on shortly after that trying to force something positive on the attacking end. In the 58th minute, Barrios tried the same maneuver as Mukhtar from a tough angle along the right end line, but only could hit the side-netting.
Rubio breathed a slight bit of hope into the Rapids game off a left-sided freekick at the 78-minute mark. Diego curled it over the wall and inside the left post to pull one back while also waking up the Colorado crowd after a quiet night from them.
Colorado almost pulled another back in the 85th minute to make it interesting. Rubio’s header was strongly on goal, and the block fell for a follow-up shot, deflected out for a corner. Barrios then recycled a pass to the back post, where Lewis’ header was saved nicely by Panicco to keep the two-goal cushion. Anthony-Kaye’s last gasp shot on goal was slowly hit to the Nashville keeper and the night ended poorly for the home side for the first time in a long time.
The next home unbeaten streak will have to wait until July 4th, as the Rapids are away for both matches in June following a 2-week break. That date could also be Trusty’s final match in a Rapids uniform before departing for duty with Arsenal this Summer.