COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids hosted FC Cincinnati in an inaugural MLS meeting between the two clubs, also marking a showdown of interim managers. By night’s end, it was Conor Casey’s Rapids who took home the victory, extending their current unbeaten run to four straight with a 3-1 win Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“Really pleased with the group,” Casey said. “It was just a professional performance tonight from us. To come away with a 3-1 win is great for the group, great for the momentum we’re building and great for the fans.”
The win was cemented by substitutes Nicolas Mezquida, who provided a late goal for the second straight home match and Diego Rubio, who provided a goal and assisted Mezquida after subbing on in the 68th minute.
“Our subs have been huge for us,” Casey said. “We have competition now and guys are pushing each other.”
Offensive chances were few in the first quarter hour, but opportunities from Rapids defender Keegan Rosenberry (3’) and FC Cincinnati’s Caleb Stanko (8’) failed to find the target.
A collision in the Rapids’ 18-yard box led to outside back Deklan Wynne being subbed off in favor of homegrown Sam Vines in the 18th minute.
The Rapids (3-9-3, 12 points) threatened to go in front again in the 33rd minute, but Kei Kamara’s point-blank header was saved off the line by FCC ‘keeper Spencer Richey. FC Cincinnati (3-10-2, 11 points) responded with an attacking spell of their own, but Roland Lamah’s shot from the center of the box was blocked in the 38th minute.
Midfielder Sam Nicholson provided another quality opportunity for Colorado in the 41st minute, but Richey again came up big with the save .
Colorado finally broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute as Nicholson found Andre Shinyashiki at FCC’s back door to give the Rapids a 1-0 lead before halftime.
Jun 1, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara (23) and interim head coach Conor Casey celebrate defeating FC Cincinnati at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
In the second half, Shinyashiki nearly returned the favor to Nicholson, sending in a cross in the 50th minute which failed to connect.
FC Cincinnati looked poised to equalize in the 58th minute, but Nick Hagglund’s shot was cleared off the line by Jack Price after it was initially bobbled by Rapids’ goalkeeper Tim Howard.
FCC found the equalizer in the 72nd minute, as Kekuta Manneh collected an over the top ball from Lamah, calmly finishing past Howard.
But on the ensuing restart, Colorado responded with a goal of their own as Rubio found Mezquida, whose shot hit the top drawer to reclaim the lead, 2-1, in the 73rd minute.
The visitors again pressed to respond, but Howard came up big with a save on FCC defender Alvas Powell in the 80th minute.
Resisting another deadlock, Colorado sealed the game with its third goal in the 82nd minute. Price’s corner kick found the head of Rubio, who sent it in the bottom corner to extend the Rapids’ advantage to 3-1.
Colorado has now collected 10 points in its past four games after starting the season winless in 12 matches.
“It’s mentality,” Casey said of the team’s current run of form. “They’ve really bonded together; they’re fighting for each other and they have belief.”
With the win, Colorado moved out of sole possession of last place in MLS, but remains at the bottom of the Western Conference, two points behind Sporting Kansas City. FCC is now last in the league with a third loss in a row.
The Rapids remain at home to face Minnesota United next Saturday (9 p.m. ET) while FC Cincinnati continues its road trip with a visit to Yankee Stadium to face NYCFC on Thursday (7 p.m. ET).