COMMERCE CITY, Co. – A late goal from Nicolas Mezquida helped lift the Colorado Rapids to a 3-2 win over Columbus Crew SC, the club’s first at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and second consecutive following the first victory of the season last week against the LA Galaxy.
“It’s great,” said Rapids centerback Tommy Smith, who scored the game’s opening goal. “Obviously after coming off a win last week, we have to make a little run of it now. Obviously, we have a lot of catching up to do so it was nice to get the relief of the first win last week. We’ve got to try to make it a fortress here and tonight was the first step in doing that.”
“I think it’s big,” added Rapids interim coach Conor Casey. “We want to give it to our fans. They’ve been so thirsty for it all year.”
Despite the Crew’s recent offensive struggles, the visitors created opportunities early in the match, including a shot from Gyasi Zardes in the second minute which went high and wide of the mark.
Colorado (2-9-2, 8 points) also had opportunities on the counterattack, including a close-range effort from midfielder Sam Nicholson which was wide of the mark in the 17th minute.
But it was Smith who opened the scoring, sending in a low headed effort off a corner to give Colorado a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
Columbus leveled the match in the 28th minute as a second ball fell to Crew midfielder Pedro Santos, who dribbled for the open shot on goal which put the score at 1-1.
Smith nearly found another goal on a header in the 32nd minute, but Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up big with a reaching save under the crossbar to keep the score level. Columbus (5-9-1, 16 points) looked primed to take a lead, but a header from Zardes could not find the target in the 38th minute.
The Rapids found a second goal in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time, with Nicholson dishing a pass to Jonathan Lewis who scored his first goal for Colorado since arriving at the primary transfer deadline two weeks ago.
May 25, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Jonathan Lewis (11) celebrates with defender Keegan Rosenberry (2) after his goal in the first half against the Columbus Crew SC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
“We have a lot of speed, we want to use it,” Casey said of Colorado’s attack. “I think if we keep that up, we’ll be in good shape moving forward.”
In the 54th minute, Federico Higuain found Zardes with a looping ball inside Colorado’s six-yard box. Zardes calmly finished to level the match again in the 54th minute.
Ten minutes later, Columbus again sought a go-ahead goal, but Gaston Sauro’s shot off of a corner kick was cleared from danger by Rapids forward Kei Kamara.
Just when it appeared the teams would share the points, the ball fell to Mezquida following a corner kick and his curling effort beat Steffen and helped Colorado move in front, 3-2 in the 89th minute.
“I think you see a lot of belief,” said Casey. “They’ve been through a lot this year so far and it’s starting to turn.”