Rapids draw, 2-2, in first match with Minnesota United FC

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The Colorado Rapids Soccer Club extended their home unbeaten streak in regular season to 19 games after earning a hard-fought 2-2 draw against expansion side Minnesota United FC. Dominique Badji and Marlon Hairston found the next for the Rapids in a wild Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Pablo Mastroeni made four changes to the starting lineup from last week’s 1-0 road defeat at New York Red Bulls. Bobby Burling and Mekeil Williams stepped into the backline in place of the injured Axel Sjöberg and Eric Miller. In the attack, Kevin Doyle and Shkëlzen Gashi replaced Dillon Powers and Caleb Calvert.

The Rapids dominated most of the possession and were rewarded with the first goal of the night through Badji’s persistent play in the attacking zone. The Senegalese striker was able to beat Bobby Shuttleworth at the near post after a poor giveaway by Minnesota’s defense.

“That’s what we work on – pressing other teams and that’s what we’re supposed to do,” Badji said postgame. “The ball fell to me and I was able to score there.”

The lead would last until five minutes into the second half, as Kevin Molino would tie things up from the spot at the 50 minute mark after Williams took down Collen Warner inside the box. Eight minutes later, Christian Martinez flicked in a decently placed cross past Tim Howard, thus giving the Loons their first-ever lead in MLS.

Hairston would get the equalizer a minute later, getting on the end of a perfectly served cross from Marc Burch at the far post.

“I don’t know his status but I think his performance was really bright,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame about Hairston’s performance. “He’s done a good job of threatening behind the backlines, tonight in particular. More importantly, he finished a good chance on goal and credit for him to be in that spot and putting himself in a dangerous position and scoring that goal to bring us back in the game.”

The Rapids had a few chances to send Minnesota home with their third consecutive loss, but both teams would have to settle for the draw.

The Rapids get two bye weeks before returning to league play. Next up for Mastroeni’s side is a road contest at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, April 9 (5:00 p.m. MT – FS1). Currently, the Rapids (1-1-1; 4 points) occupy the sixth place in the Western Conference.

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