The Colorado Rapids are rolling, drawing or winning their last four games. Saturday’s win provided a massive three points against one of the best teams in the league.
On a beautiful Colorado afternoon, the Rapids defeated Toronto, the reigning MLS champions, 2-0. The boys in burgundy took an incredibly early lead thanks to the first MLS career goal from Jack Price, a central midfielder acquired from Wolverhampton Wanderers. In only the second minute, right wingback Kip Colvey sent a low cross into the box that was cleared conveniently to Price. Price showed awareness and patience to take a touch towards the goal before banging it into the lower left side netting past Toronto goalkeeper and former Rapid Clint Irwin.
Multiple times this season, the Rapids have conceded late-game goals that either relinquished a lead, or broke a tie in favor of the opposition. Not against Toronto. The Rapids kept their foot on the gas pedal the entirety of the game, creating chances and capitalizing on scoring opportunities. Price spoke about the difference after halftime in the Toronto match, compared to their previous matches.
“When we went 1-0 up at halftime, the gaffer said, ‘people are doubting us, saying we are going to concede goals, give late goals,’ which we have,” Price said. “We proved them wrong [Saturday], which is good.”
In the 78th minute, Rapids striker Dominique Badji attacked the left side of the box and was fouled by Liam Fraser just before looking to score. Instead of taking the penalty himself, he handed the responsibility to Shkelzen Gashi, designated player for the Rapids who had just come on in his first game of the season after battling a multitude of injuries. Badji showed his confidence in Gashi to complete the scoring chance and Gashi executed brilliantly, scoring the penalty and celebrating in style,
Rapids manager Anthony Hudson revealed what he thinks is the reason for his team’s stellar play as of late.
“I think it’s belief, familiarity, cohesion, and players now understanding and recognizing we’ve had a couple of lessons against different types of teams,” Hudson said. “We’re progressing. We’re a threat going forward, and I think it’s coming with belief.”
Confidence and belief in themselves is paying dividends for the club. With the highest goal difference in the Western Conference and an unbeaten record at home, the Rapids are proving they can be a serious playoff contender. After the game, Price discussed the team’s cohesion and work ethic, and its positive consequences.
“We’re getting results now,” Price said. “The lads are working hard for each other every day in training and in games. I think we are a tight-knit group. As you can see, we’re sticking by each other out there, and it’s proving.”
An impressive display of unselfishness Saturday occurred after Badji drew a penalty late in the game. Instead of taking the penalty himself with a chance to increase his goal tally, he gave it to Gashi, who battled injuries all season up until this point. Badji wanted his teammate to have a memorable season debut. Price spoke about the altruistic move by Badji. “Badji could have took that himself,” Price said. “He’s got four [goals] this season and he could’ve had five. It just shows the team’s together, not selfish.”
Hudson added to Price’s sentiments on the team’s camaraderie. “The biggest thing is we have a group of players that are playing for each other,” Hudson said. “What we are seeing is a team that is working well together. We’re not a team of individuals. We have good players that are playing to a certain style and system. They’re all stepping up and fulfilling their role within that system as well.”
The Colorado Rapids travel over the Rocky Mountains to face division rival Real Salt Lake, who sit just one position and one point below them in the West. It will be the first time Enzo Martinez, who was drafted by RSL in 2012, plays at Rio Tinto stadium in Rapids colors. Considering their chemistry and style of play in the last month, it’s safe to say the Rapids will have Martinez’s back as he returns to his former stomping grounds.