Mar 31, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Enzo Martinez (90) defends as Philadelphia Union midfielder Fabian Herbers (14) heads the ball in the first half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Saturday night’s 3-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Union marked a milestone for the Colorado Rapids, as the team earned its first win of the Anthony Hudson coaching era.
“I think it feels good. I’m proud of the players,” Hudson told reporters postgame. “I think it’s important that we’ve got off the mark in terms of what we’re doing. But again, as I’ve said over the last few weeks: we’re very much a team in transition and it’s all new.
“Progressing is more important than the results, but this is very important for us.”
A second half hat trick from Dominique Badji combined with Colorado’s first clean sheet of the season proved to be the difference maker as Colorado earned its first three points of the season.
It wasn’t all goals and offensive football in the first half. Both sides struggled to piece together extended stretches of attacking play.
Philadelphia controlled much of the first half play however, with 57 percent possession and five shots compared to Colorado’s four. Nevertheless, Colorado was the only team with shots on frame in the opening half, including Enzo Martinez’s 43rd minute effort, which was arguably the Rapids’ best chance to take an early lead to that point.
Rapids centerback Danny Wilson came down injured just before halftime and was replaced by Axel Sjoberg to start the second half.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Colorado struck first to open the game’s scoring. In the 53rd minute, Jack Price’s corner kick found Tommy Smith, who headed the ball down to Dominique Badji. Badji buried the effort top shelf to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead.
Colorado continued to suffer casualties however, with Marlon Hairston leaving the game in the 60th minute on a stretcher. Dillon Serna entered the game, earning his first minutes of the season for Colorado.
Immediately following the match, Hudson couldn’t provide details regarding the injuries to Wilson and Hairston.
“I think the next couple of days will tell us about those,” Hudson commented. “It’s just a bit too early to tell.”
Eight minutes after his first goal, Badji doubled Colorado’s lead by collecting the rebound off a Johan Blomberg shot and tucking it behind Blake to make it 2-0 in the 63rd minute.
“I think as the game went on, Johan grew into the game and showed a lot of energy and drive. What’s important with Badji is he’s almost had to carry a big weight on his shoulders for a long time. To be fair, he just quietly gets his head down, works hard, has an incredible attitude and does everything that’s asked of him,” Hudson said of the performances.
The Rapids scoring leader from 2017 was hungry for more, scoring his third in the 87th minute after dribbling between three Union defenders to seal the 3-0 win. It marked the first hat trick of Badji’s professional career and the first Rapids hat trick since Sanna Nyassi bagged three against NY Red Bulls in July of 2011.
In addition to the strong individual effort from Badji, Saturday’s win also marked arguably the most complete performance from the Rapids in their three regular season games thus far.
“I think this week we were better in possession, we managed the game better and our shape was better,” Hudson said. “I think this is an incredible group of players who’ve worked incredibly hard and haven’t had anything to show for it…This is them getting their rewards tonight.”
The Rapids return to the road next Saturday to face FC Dallas while Philadelphia returns home to host the San Jose Earthquakes.