clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Gyasi Zardes’ hat trick powers Rapids past Loons

It may have rained on the Rapids and Loons again, but Zardes splashed most

John Babiak

Colorado returned home Saturday night against Minnesota United and welcomed back their healthy Captain Jack Price for the first time since late June. Sam Nicholson also slotted back into the starting lineup in midfield, and with Lalas Abubakar rested for the match, Keegan Rosenberry and Lucas Estevez rounded out a back four on the night.

Minnesota had a perfect start as they earned a corner-kick in the 4th minute after Colorado Rapids defender Gustavo Vallecilla had a touch over the end line. The ball went through a crowded box to the far post where Abu Danladi was on the doorstep to poke it past William Yarbrough, and the visitors had a shock 1-0 lead.

Colorado didn't sulk, however, as Diego Rubio ran with possession down the middle and took a long-range blast with runners trailing. The blistering shot wasn't handled by keeper Dayne St. Clair, and Gyasi Zardes followed up the bobble rushing in from the left side to nick it out of the air into the goal before St. Clair could get his hands back on it in the 7th minute.

The Rapids didn't stop there as just 4 minutes later; a classic Rosenberry long through from the right touchline fired perfectly in front of the six-yard box for a blitzing Rubio. His header was driven past a helpless St. Clair and the Burgundy Boys fully grabbed the momentum back and a 2-1 lead.

The onslaught continued in the 15th minute as Michael Barrios ran onto another perfectly positioned throw-in from Rosenberry down the right side. Barrios slipped a neat ball through the defender to Zardes again running into his spot, and he coolly side-footed it into the keeper's right for a 3-1 lead.

Colorado continued its pressure with their attacking numbers out of midfield and three up front as the first half wore on. Meanwhile, St. Clair continued to look shaky on even the simplest looking balls across the box, having trouble getting a firm grip more than once. However, in another twist just before halftime, Minnesota's Luis Amarilla had too much time before being closed down inside the right side of the box and hammered a belter from the tough angle over Yarbrough and into the top corner to bring the match back to 3-2.

The Second half was delayed by the lingering storm and the dreaded "lightning delay" as the players were called off the field from warmups and fans were told to hit the concourse. A nervous re-start led to what was bound to be a bit of a "squeaky bum" time as that feared 2-goal lead was halved, giving the Loons some renewed hope after being thoroughly outplayed other than their scores from point-blank.

New Rapids midfielder Felipe Gutierrez made his Colorado debut coming on for Price following the lengthy delay, as Jack is just coming back from his layoff.

Nicholson sprung Zardes free, running onto the ball on the left side of the penalty area in the 52nd minute. However, even though he was able to beat St. Clair to the ball, the shot was stuffed by the Minnesota keeper on a golden chance to grab the early lift.

Minutes later, Rubio fed a delicious ball with great vision into the box for Barrios to hammer an attempt on goal, but it was deflected out for a corner kick. Colorado seemed to be finding that attacking gear with numbers 10 minutes in, similar to the first half. Rubio and Barrios connected again in the 58th minute for Rubio to pepper St. Clair, and the pattern was becoming visible down the right side.

Rubio would provide an almost carbon-copy of the first Rapids goal with yet another blast from a distance forcing a sprawling St. Clair to get a hand to it but not control the ball. Zardes, again in the perfect follow-up position, fought off a defender to poke it home his hat-trick inside the right post and the 4-2 lead.

A nervous buildup inside Colorado's box in the 74th minute was snuffed out by nice body-deflections by Rosenberry and Gutierrez as the teams kept the match a back and forth affair. Minnesota didn't quit, however, and in the 81st minute made Yarbrough work a wonderful tip save over the bar for a corner kick. On the ensuing set piece, Brent Kallman drifted free at the back post and headed across goal to make things interesting yet again at 4-3.

Yarbrough then came up with probably a win-saving play in the 86th minute as Minnesota rushed into his area. With Rosenberry a half-step behind, the Colorado keeper came to meet him and left a right leg out to kick save away from danger and hold the lead and see out another shootout win for the Rapids.