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Rapids Notebook: PETA, Penalties and Price highlight the week for Colorado

The Colorado Rapids played the first match of a four-game road trip Wednesday night against Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank stadium. Near the 37-minute mark, the hosting Loons had a chance to go in front when Rapids defender Danny Wilson was called for a penalty in the box. But Clint Irwin saved the penalty take by Darwin Quintero to keep the match 0-0. Less than two minutes later, Quintero made amends by racing behind the Colorado backline with the ball and calmly finishing past Irwin to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish in the win.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 1-0 loss (along with some notes from the week):

Rapids sans Price proves costly

In his sophomore MLS season, Jack Price has proven himself to be an irreplaceable cog in interim head coach Conor Casey’s system. The Rapids have not won a game this season without Price in the lineup, a statistic that remains intact following Wednesday’s loss. Price missed Wednesday’s game due to yellow card accumulation.

Price’s eight assists lead Colorado this season, mostly due to his accurate delivery on set pieces, a role he has fully undertaken following the release of Shkëlzen Gashi before the season started.

Additionally, he has provided defensive disruption deep in the midfield, an asset that would’ve been vital against a threat like Minnesota’s Quintero.

Kellyn Acosta served as the delivery man Wednesday night when it came to set pieces, but Colorado was unable to connect on them, which has been an area of strength under Casey.

Ineffable Irwin

Tim Howard (calf strain) remains out for Colorado, requiring the Rapids’ need to call upon Irwin for his sixth-straight appearance. Irwin provided a Man of the Match performance in a losing effort, making a season-high eight saves, including the initial penalty save on Quintero. Irwin was peppered with 27 shots from the Loons, but received little help from the Rapids’ offense, which produced just three on-target efforts in the match and failed to maintain long stretches of possession.

Irwin signed a contract extension with Toronto in 2017, but the Reds failed to pick up his option at the end of 2018. The 30-year-old is currently trying to make a case to once again become the Rapids’ No. 1 with Howard’s announced retirement at the end of this season.

“Clint is a very good keeper, so I’m obviously very excited for him to be the number one next year,” said Rapids midfielder Jonathan Lewis. “We have two very good keepers competing against each other right now, and he really helped us today. It was unfortunate that we got a goal scored on us, he even saved the penalty which was brilliant. It was just unfortunate.”

In other news…

– The Rapids announced the move of midfielder Johan Blomberg on loan to GIF Sundsvall in the Swedish Allsvenskan (first division) for the remainder of his contract. The Swedish club is currently fighting a relegation battle, currently sitting in last place in the table. The 32-year-old made 24 appearances last season, but only played in three competitive matches (one start) in 2019, producing just three assists during his Rapids tenure.

– Following this month’s fireworks cancellations related to plague infested prairie dogs in the nearby wildlife areas surrounding Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, animal rights group PETA has now issued an ultimatum to the Rapids, the details of which were outlined in a letter sent to the team’s ownership.

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