Match Recap: Rapids Are Top Dogs After LAFC Brushed Aside
COLORADO RAPIDS 5-2 LAFC Sunday, November 7 | DICK’S Sporting Goods Park
Two goals from Jonathan Lewis, and a first in four-and-a-half years for Collen Warner, set the Colorado Rapids on the road to a crushing win over LAFC on Sunday night and, with results elsewhere, catapulted them to the top of the Western Conference on the final day of the regular season.
Rapids' Head Coach, Robin Fraser, said: "Words can’t express how proud I am of this team. Anyone who’s ever heard me has heard me rave about what a good group it is, how much they care for each other, how much they play hard for each other.
"While this is just one step - it’s certainly a good step - we still have so much more to do this year."
Both sides bowled into this one chasing a win; the Rapids in the hope of climbing higher than third, and LAFC with their postseason ticket not yet stamped.
Protecting a 15-game unbeaten home record, the Rapids felt some LAFC heat early on, as Bob Bradley’s boys brought the intensity. There were a succession of corners, a header narrowly wide, a shot against the post from close range, and a couple of freekicks in areas of concern.
The pressure was eased 18 minutes in when Lewis timed his run to perfection to finish off a magical move, starting with a pin-point pass from the boot of Danny Wilson, which was majestically taken down on the chest by Kellyn Acosta, who threaded his cross into the narrow path of on the onrushing Lewis.
Bradley made an early tactical switch, taking out defender Sebastien Ibeagha and bringing on Carlos Vela. Within two minutes of that substitution, the Rapids were 2-0 up, and the goal came from an unlikely source.
Jack Price delivered a corner from the left. It found its way to Warner 15 yards out, and he smacked the ball goalwards. Goalkeeper Jamal Blackman got a hand to it, but only served in guiding it into his own net. Warner wheeled away, claiming his first goal in MLS since his Minnesota side lost 5-2 at New England Revolution on March 25, 2017.
The 2-0 lead would become a three-goal advantage eight minutes after the interval after dogged work by Diego Rubio offered Lewis the opportunity toe-poke past Blackman for a career-high seventh goal of the season.
Lewis limped off after the goal celebrations, leaving the Rapids with 10 men. Lewis, it appeared, thought he had been substituted due to his knock, but the coaching staff were trying to get him back on the field so they could get their change ready. In the confusion, a distracted Rapids allowed Cristian Arango to score his 14th goal in 17 appearances.
Fraser made a double switch one minute later, and the pair combined to restore the three-goal cushion just past the hour mark. Michael Barrios played in Cole Bassett who dropped his shoulder and rifled the ball beyond Blackman for his fifth of the season.
LAFC were given another glimmer of hope in the 71st minute when Brian Rodriguez’s shot ricocheted off the legs of Steven Beitashour and through William Yarbrough, but the Rapids would have the final word 11 minutes from time.
Beitashour found substitute Dominique Badji at the far post with a teasing, outswinging cross, and the number eight swept in his fifth goal since returning to the Rapids.
With Seattle drawing 1-1 at Vancouver, and Sporting KC falling to Real Salt Lake, the Rapids moved from third to first in the final regular season standings. This is the first time in franchise history that the Rapids have reached such dizzy heights, and they did so with a club record 61 points and 17 wins.
They will be at home in the playoffs, starting in the second round. Opponent to be determined. After the struggles endured by players, staff, and fans alike, moments such as these will be treasured, but this group also knows there remains work to be done.
Rapids: William Yarbrough; Lalas Abubakar, Danny Wilson, Auston Trusty; Steven Beitashour, Jack Price © (Cole Bassett 56’), Collen Warner (Lucas Esteves 68’), Kellyn Acosta; Diego Rubio (Andre Shinyashiki 76’), Jonathan Lewis (Michael Barrios 56’), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Dominique Badji 77’). Subs not used: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Nicolas Mezquida, Younes Namli.
LAFC: Jamal Blackman; Kim-Moon Hwan, Sebastian Ibeagha (Carlos Vela 31’), Jesus Murillo, Mamadou Fall (Tristan Blackmon 86’), Diego Palacios, Raheem Edwards; Jose Cifuentes, Latif Blessing; Cristian Arango, Brian Rodriguez. Subs not used: Tomas Romero, Marco Farfan, Bryce Duke, Jordan Harvey, Daniel Crisostomo, Michee Ngalina, Danny Musovski.
Referee: Allen Chapman
About the author: Richard Fleming has just finished his ninth season covering the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer. During 16 years with the BBC, he covered two FIFA World Cups, five Africa Cup of Nations, a FIFA Confederations Cup, and a European Championship. He has also covered UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, and football at all levels of the game during more than 30 years covering the sport.