COMMERCE CITY — The Colorado Rapids’ offense broke out of its shell Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Colorado put three past Minnesota United before lightning paused the match at halftime. By the final whistle, the Rapids tacked on one more in a 4-3 victory that secured a much-needed six-point week.
Gyasi Zardes scored the club’s first hat trick since Aug. 3, 2019, when Kei Kamara put three past the Montreal Impact. It was Zardes’ first three-goal game since 2018, which also came against the Loons.
It’s also the first time in club history where they’ve scored four goals in back-to-back games.
“Our attacking guys in general, I feel like there’s a different confidence about them than even earlier in the season,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “There’s just real conviction when they get opportunities and a good look at the goal. Sometimes, that makes a real difference — just real conviction.”
Keegan Rosenberry played a significant role in two of the Rapids’ three first-half goals, as his long throw-ins were a menace to deal with for the Loons. One resulted in an assist, and another could have been classified as a secondary “hockey” assist.
But before Rosenberry was able to work his magic, Minnesota United actually opened the scoring in the opening four minutes as Abu Dinladi flicked home a corner kick on a ball that managed to get through the Rapids defense.
From there, Colorado turned on the attacking jets with three goals in the opening 15 minutes.
Zardes opened Colorado’s scoring in the seventh minute after an error on Loons’ goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair. Diego Rubio hit a shot from long-distance but St. Clair spilled the shot and Zardes pounced on the rebound to make it 1-0. Rubio got a second four minutes later, as Rosenberry’s long throw-in fell in between a pair of Loons defenders and Rubio headed it home to make it 2-1.
It was Rubio’s seventh consecutive game with either a goal or an assist, and he tied a career-high with his 11th goal of the season.
Zardes got a second of the half in the 15th minute, as Rosenberry quickly heaved a long throw-in for Michael Barrios in stride. Barrios centered a pass to Zardes, who couldn’t miss to make it 3-1.
Minnesota pulled one back late in the first half, as Luis Amarilla scored from a difficult angle to make it 3-2.
After a 1-hour, 43 minute delay due to lightning on Saturday night, the Rapids picked off where they left off in the second half. Felipe Gutiérrez subbed on for captain Jack Price, who played his first match since June.
After the match, Fraser, Zardes and Rubio described the Chilean’s ability to calm the game down.
“He’s a player that’s played World Cups,” Rubio said. “He’s (got) a different mindset than other guys where they might need time to adapt. Their game is confidence on the ball. Everything that they do on the ball it looks easy, but it’s not easy. Not a lot of players can do what he does.”
In the 61st minute in almost an identical play to the first goal, Rubio tried a shot from distance and St. Clair spilled a potential-save. Zardes again pounced and made it 4-2.
The Loons wouldn’t give up, though. In the 81st minute Brett Kallman got his head on a corner kick to cut the deficit to 4-3. Colorado subbed on defender Lalas Abubakar and helped see out the match.
Colorado (8-9-6, 30 points) will have a week to prepare for Zardes’ old team, the Columbus Crew, with a meeting set for 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at DSGP.