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Rapids trio earn Week 24 MLS accolades

Fraser, Zardes and Rubio recognized. Will Yarbrough not, despite game-saving performances

John Babiak

On Monday, Major League Soccer Communications announced that three team members of the Colorado Rapids were recognized for their performances during Week 24 of the 2022 season and named to the MLS Team of the Week.

Forwards Gyasi Zardes and Diego Rubio were selected to the team following their contributions in assisting the Rapids winning of two crucial games in five days. Zardes double-dipped, as he was also named MLS Player of the Week.

Zardes is the first Rapids player to win Player of the Week honors since former Rapids winger Andre Shinyashiki did in Week 27 of the 2019 season.

Along with Rubio, Zardes has helped the team to a 3-1-2 record in recent weeks. In his last six games, Zardes has scored five times and dished off one assist. Against the Loons he scored in the 7th, 15th, and 61st minute of the match, bringing his goal total this season to seven, and 94th in his stellar MLS career. To that end, he now has two hat tricks against Minnesota United.

Meanwhile, Diego Rubio has kept up his two-way pace and emerged as the team’s Comandante. His goal and two assists in the Rapids come-from-behind victory against the Red Bulls generated his sixth consecutive match with either a goal or an assist. And he didn’t stop in Harrison, New Jersey. After a quick turnaround, he scored his 11th goal of the season at home against Minnesota, tying his MLS career-high that he set in 2019.

It is a pity that he is not on the 2022 MLS All-Star Team. His hard work and leadership, both at training sessions, in the changing room, and during matchplay has kept the Rapids in the hunt for a playoff spot. He will not represent the Rapids in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Allianz Field tonight.

Robin Fraser, was also named the team’s head coach. In recent weeks he has reshaped and refocused the Rapids from underdogs into genuine playoff contenders. Fraser has made his team into believers.

Following the Rapids win over Minnesota, he spoke of the team’s and especially Zardes’ all-out efforts. ”I am really proud to come out of that with a win. I think it’s a really important win for us just given how our season has gone and the inconsistency, the lack of back-to-back wins. It’s a big win for us in terms of gaining confidence. We talk about what we need to have a playoff mentality at this point, and for a game like this tonight, we didn’t play particularly well, but we had moments where we were very, very good and very clinical, and in the end, we win. And so for us, it’s really important. We have a lot to work on, a lot of things we need to continue to get better and better at.”

He continued, ”Gyasi’s goals epitomize somebody who was determined. And if you think about our group, we look at some of the goals we scored tonight, but Gyasi’s, in particular, were about determination.” Fraser added, about the Man of the Match, “It’s pretty unselfish to have to sprint 20 or so yards not knowing if you’re going to get an opportunity, but you might get an opportunity, and I thought those goals epitomized our performances of the last two games. It’s what we need.”

His last two outings have been exceptional. It is fair to state that this is what the Rapids front office team brought him in to do. Both performances underwrote his Player of the Week distinction.

The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season through media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of the voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio, and online media.

Missing from the 18-member Team of the Week was Rapids goaltender Will Yarbrough. Rapids fans must be taken aback by Yarbrough’s omission. He turned in two performances that included late-in-the-game, 1-on-1 saves that preserved the Rapids slugfest victories over the Red Bull and Minnesota United respectfully and just as importantly, kept the team in the running for a post-season playoff berth.

MLS Team of the Week 24:

Head Coach: Robin Fraser (Colorado Rapids)

First Team:

Gyasi Zardes (Colorado Rapids),

Drake Callender (MIA),

Andrew Gutman (ATL),

Joel Waterman (MTL),

Henry Kessler (NE),

Alvaro Barreal (CIN),

Lucas Zelarayan (CLB),

Jonathan Osorio (TOR),

Sebastian Driussi (ATX),

Cristian Arango (LAFC),

Kacper Przybylko (CHI).

Team Bench:

Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids),

Djordje Petrovic (NE),

Ranko Veselinovic (VAN),

Xherdan Shaqiri (CHI),

Lorenzo Insigne (TOR),

Santiago Moreno (POR),

William Agada (SKC).