On a brisk Colorado night, the burning desire to win was there for both teams.
But it was the Rapids who used the motivating flames of a possible postseason berth to carve a 3-1 win against the Sounders FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The match marked the first time since September that the Rapids played in their home stadium due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the club in October. Major League Soccer canceled five Colorado matches. One was a contest against the Sounders scheduled for CenturyLink Field on Oct. 14.
While Sunday’s match was always scheduled, it had different meaning. The Sounders entered already qualified for the postseason and clinging to a chance to win the Supporters’ Shield and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Because of numerous clubs suffering virus outbreaks that canceled games, MLS announced berths would be given based on points per game. The decision made Sunday’s match significant for the Rapids, who needed to beat the Sounders to have a chance at clinching a playoff berth.
Colorado forward Andre Shinyashiki ignited the push with a header in the 11th minute to open up the scoring.
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan raced down the right flank in the 22nd minute to create the equalizer. He sent a cross for teammate Jordan Morris, which the forward awkwardly knocked in for his ninth goal this season. Roldan has four assists.
The Rapids defender Keegan Rosenberry reacted quickly to score on a volley in the 42nd minute for a 2-1 lead at halftime.
While both teams increased their intensity in the second half, the Sounders were left with near-chances, and the Rapids found another score. This time off a free kick where midfielder Cole Bassett split Sounders defenders Kelvin Leerdam and Yeimar Gomez Andrade for a header in the 75th minute.
The Sounders (10-5-5) are out of contention for the top overall seed in MLS. They’re in the running for the top seed in the West along with the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City.
Colorado (6-6-4) need Vancouver to lose or tie with Portland and Real Salt Lake to draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy in late Sunday night matches in order to clinch a playoff berth.
Shane O’Neill, who began his MLS career with Colorado in 2012, replaced Xavier Arreaga in the Sounders’ starting lineup Sunday. He was on defense for Shinyashiki’s goal and barely edged by the Rapids striker in the jump for the ball.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer didn’t make any other changes to the starting lineup. Key changes were made to the bench. Will Bruin and Brad Smith were selected after missing past matches due to minor injuries. Smith substituted into the match for Gustav Svensson in the 64th minute, and Bruin subbed on in the 78th minute for Nouhou.
The Sounders play the Galaxy on road Wednesday.
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