The Colorado Rapids’ record-breaking season came to an end on Sunday when Seattle Sounders FC won 1-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to lift the Western Conference Championship.
Pablo Mastroeni’s men were trailing 2-1 from the first leg so, when Jordan Morris’ scored in the 56th minute, it seemed to be a mortal blow to their hopes.
Rapids piled on the pressure in the final stages but Seattle held on to reach MLS Cup for the first time in their history.
It was a disappointing way for Mastroeni’s side to end their campaign. However, they can hold their heads high after a superb regular season in which they set records for most points and most home wins.
In fact, this was the only defeat they suffered at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park all year. And it did not look likely early on.
Rapids were the better side in the first half. As they had against LA Galaxy in the semifinal second leg three weeks earlier, the home side were the aggressor from the start. They peppered the Sounders’ goal with shots but they had to wait until the 23rd minute for their best chances of the half.
Kevin Doyle outmuscled Roman Torres inside the area but his cross flew unconverted through the six-yard area. Shortly afterwards, Sounders FC keeper Stefan Frei failed to gather a corner and Jermaine Jones flicked an effort just over.
Rapids continued to press forward but Shkëlzen Gashi’s mishit bicycle kick was as close as they got. At the break, they had registered 11 shots but none of them had been on target.
Seattle knew they had to change the game or they would concede. As a result, they responded positively after the restart.
They grabbed the crucial goal when Morris latched on a through-ball from Nelson Valdez and clipped an angled shot over the advancing Zac MacMath.
Immediately, Mastroeni exchanged Marlon Hairston for Sébastien Le Toux. The substitute thought he had won a penalty when the sliding Chad Marshall appeared to handle. However, referee Ricardo Salazar waved play on.
Rapids continued to pour forward in the dying minutes but Seattle defended with organization and tenacity. When the whistle blew, Rapids were out. But if they heed the mantra of the 2016 season they will be back and they will be better.
Here’s to next year. Keep Fighting.