The Colorado Rapids saw the return of midfield engine Kellyn Acosta against Real Salt Lake on Saturday night in Round 2 of this season’s Rocky Mountain Cup. Both sides looked to press the action early on and take the upper hand making for an entertaining first half.
The Rapids almost turned things their way in the 4th minute as Mark-Anthony Kaye’s perfectly lofted ball to the right side for Michael Barrios was dropped back into the area for Diego Rubio, but the clean look sailed just high.
RSL then turned a second-chance corner kick in the 8th minute into a decent shot on goal, but William Yarbrough’s diving save to his right kept things square. As play started to settle down a bit later, some nice ball movement in the 21st minute by RSL on the right side saw a cross come into the Rapids near-post, but Rubio Rubin was off the mark with his tap.
A nervous moment for RSL keeper Zac MacMath ensued in the 29th minute after he couldn’t hang on to a long-distance Kaye drive. Rubio latched onto the loose ball but it was touched away from harm in the box.
A foul by Lalas Abubukar in the 33rd minute gave RSL the set piece they were looking for. The ball was sent into the 6-yard box crowd, and was initially knocked down but Yarbrough couldn’t smother it and the visitors tapped it in on the line for the lead… or so they thought! A second look by the VAR disallowed the goal and the Rapids dodged a big punch before halftime.
Colorado HC Robin Fraser was looking for more energy and better decisions from the Rapids in the second half; however, RSL had too much space down the right to the endline in the 52nd minute, where the pass was too easy to Albert Rusnak in the area and he blasted one past Yarbrough for the breakthrough goal.
The Rapids scrambled to get control of the play after the score. But, to the surprise of no one, in the 64th minute, Captain Jack Price delivered a pinpoint corner-kick to the back post where Rubio snuck in and nodded it down inside the right post for the equalizer. That energized both the crowd and Colorado as their intensity level was further cranked up by the substitutions of Andre Shinyashiki, Braian Galvan, and Jonathan Lewis shortly thereafter.
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In the 71st minute, Galvan proved lethal with a driving cross to the middle ,where it was smacked home by the forehead of Kaye to take the important lead with his first goal in burgundy.
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Disaster seemed to strike for the home side in the 80th minute as Danny Wilson was deemed to bring down the attacker in the box for the RSL PK. However, Colorado’s best friend on the night —VAR — saw the offside call and again the chance was disallowed and the Rapids kept their slim one-goal lead.
The match finished up in typical Rocky Mountain Cup fashion as both sides ramped up the physical play and tempers followed suit. But after seven agonizing minutes of extra time, and a nervous ball directly to Yarbrough on the line, Colorado drew closer on the aggregate and grabbed a valuable three home points on the night, while moving into third place in the Western Conference.