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Disputes and Debuts: Takeaways from the Colorado Rapids’ 2-0 win over MNUFC

Colorado Rapids midfielder Jack Price (19) blocks Minnesota United midfielder Darwin Quinteros (25) kick during the second half at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids snapped a seven-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon as goals from Yannick Boli (61’) and Niki Jackson (90+7’) led the visitors to a 2-0 win over Minnesota United at TCF Bank Stadium.

Here are three takeaways from the Rapids’ 2-0 win.

Cole to the fire

Colorado Rapids homegrown Cole Bassett continued his meteoric rise on Saturday, achieving his goal of making the starting XI in an MLS match for the first time. The 17-year-old didn’t look out of place, either, as he stayed on for the full 90 minutes.

In those 90 minute, Bassett nearly added a debut goal during an early sequence where the Rapids put a flurry of shots on frame, but Matt Lampson and the Loons’ defense somehow kept the ball away from danger.

“The fact that he played the whole game will tell you what we think about him,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson said. “It’s no surprise to us. It’s no surprise that he had the performance that he did. I think our biggest job, is making sure his feet stay on the ground. We all believe in him. He’s an unbelievable character, forget about his ability. We believe in him and he’s part of the future of this team. This is not a token gesture—him getting a start. He showed qualities throughout the game that we felt could help us.”

Rub of the Green

For all of the unluckiness and frustrations the Colorado Rapids have experienced this season, Saturday’s game favored them. Shortly before Colorado’s goal, the Rapids could have gone down 1-0 on a goal from Darwin Quintero which was called back for offside, despite the appearance that Marlon Hairston kept him onside.

In the 86th minute, Minnesota midfielder Ibson appeared to have leveled the match at 1-1, but that goal was also called offside.

The VAR working in favor of Colorado wasn’t the only thing that went right. Other highlights included Yannick Boli’s first goal from the run of play and the win helped propel the Rapids out of the race for the Wooden Spoon Trophy – a tongue in cheek award which goes to the worst team in MLS. With two games remaining, the Rapids are now seven points clear of last place San Jose heading into their clash next weekend.

Clueless and classless

Saturday’s game was a breaking point for two teams that were eliminated from playoff contention well before season’s end, and it boiled over after Jackson’s late goal as Rapids defender Tommy Smith went over to celebrate next to Minnesota’s bench. The unsportsmanlike celebration incited a brawl from the Loons’ bench players and coaches.

After the dust had settled and head referee Guido Gonzalez Jr. had again gone to the VAR, a red card was issued to Smith for “Foul and Abusive Language” and Minnesota’s Harrison Heath for “No impact on timing”. As Marcelo Balboa said on Colorado’s broadcast, this mass confrontation event will warrant a second look from the MLS disciplinary committee.

Comments were unavailable from Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson on the incident, but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath said postgame, “I don’t know what triggered it off. Somebody said one of their guys came over and celebrated to our bench. You know, so I’ll have to see. I’m probably in the dark as much as you of what went on and the reason they got sent off. But hey, it is what it is. We’ve got to — as much as it’s disappointing at the time when people do that — you got to be professional and bite your tongue and get on with it.”

There’s been a debate on whether or not Smith’s actions warranted a red card, but there’s been precedent in these types of situations before, most notably Clint Dempsey’s sending off and three-game suspension for ripping up a referee’s notebook in the 2016 edition of the U.S. Open Cup.

As one of my colleagues and former MLB pitcher has written, there’s a time and place for celebrations. Scoring the game winner in a playoff game or cup final? Appropriate. Gloating in front of the opposing bench and fans when you’re one of the worst teams in the league? Not so much.

Tommy Smith is a veteran and supposed locker room leader for the Rapids and should act like it.

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