The Colorado Rapids returned to action after a four-month pandemic-induced layoff. Their debut in the MLS is Back Tournament was a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
The Rocky Mountain rivalry was reignited and Salt Lake remained undefeated over the last six matchups. An explosive first half and some Rapids mistakes in the second led to a rather easy win.
The Rapids, who had been a darkhorse pick to win their group, had a disappointing showing. Even head coach Robin Fraser expressed his disappointment in the club’s lack of aggression during an in-game interview.
“Obviously a disappointing night for all of us,” Fraser said postgame. “I felt like we didn’t play as well as we are able to, and as a result we we got behind early and they were on top of the game. We had a hard time getting back on top of it.”
Clint Irwin tried to corral a cross that ricocheted off his hands onto the left foot of Albert Rusnák, who mis-hit the ball off of Irwin and Drew Moor and into the net. The 27th-minute goal capped a ferocious 15-minute flurry from Salt Lake.
Rusnák had a chance to double Salt Lake’s lead in the second half. After a miscommunication between Rapids defenders, Irwin sold out to take down Douglas Martínez. Irwin was given a yellow card and on the ensuing penalty, goalie dove to make a sprawling stop. The quick rebound from Nick Besler was also beautifully saved to keep Colorado in the game in the 72nd minute.
But the battering toward Colorado’s net continued. Four minutes later, Real Salt Lake doubled their lead with a Damir Kreilach shot from outside the box.
Overall the Rapids had some strong moments in the second half but had not generated a shot on target until the 59th minute. Colorado’s attacks were thwarted either by poor execution or good defending before reaching the net.
“There were some moments where we could have been sharper and more precise in our final actions,” Fraser said. “It was definitely evident there as well as in other parts of the field.”
Jeremy Kelly made his pro debut to some shaky moments in the first half but sharpened as the game wore on. He played 74 minutes, including one shot on target before coming off. His pass intended for Lalas Abubakar is what led to the penalty shot.
“Obviously it’s nice to make your debut but it doesn’t really mean much when you play like that,” Kelly said.
Kelly replaced right back Keegan Rosenberry in the starting lineup, who had played in every single game he could since being acquired prior to the start of the 2019 season. The 2019 MLS ironman did not play because he was unavailable to train leading up to the match and his talents were missed as Sunday was the fourth time Colorado has conceded multiple goals in Fraser’s 10 games.
No team in MLS has more wins over another team than Real Salt Lake has over Colorado since 2014.
Bigger Picture: Group D kicked off with a doubleheader Sunday night, Sporting Kansas City were defeated by Minnesota United. The Loons scored two goals in extra time to flip the score for a 2-1 victory.
What’s Next: Colorado will face Sporting on Friday. Kansas City’s goalie Tim Melia took a red card late in their Sunday match leading to their collapse. The foul also carries a one-match suspension rendering him out of Friday’s game against Colorado.