Zlatan Ibrahimović and the LA Galaxy came to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for a midweek clash with Colorado, looking to secure points in a tight Western Conference playoffs race. In what looked to be destined to be a 0-0 draw after a scoreless first half, the game came to life late with all six of the game’s goals coming in a six-minute span. Cole Bassett opened the scoring to give Colorado a 1-0 lead in the 79th minute, but LA responded with the leveler from Giancarlo Gonzalez four minutes later. Nicolas Mezquida scored the game winner on a controversial penalty call just moments later and the game ended with a 2-1 Rapids win, despite a wild 10 minutes of extra time that included multiple cards and VAR reviews.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 2-1 win over LA:
Rookie of the Year
Colorado Rapids rookie Andre Shinyashiki continues to impress for Colorado. Following his two-goal performance last weekend against Seattle which earned him MLS player of the week and a Team of the Week nod, Shinyashiki continued to propel Colorado’s attack on Wednesday and his play in the second half led to the penalty call (albeit controversial) and the Rapids second goal.
“I think each game you gain more and more confidence,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said of Shinyashiki. “What we saw was a really aggressive No. 9, not an impressive rookie No. 9. impressive nine period no matter what.”
Despite the controversy of the penalty call, which many LA Galaxy players disagreed with and what replays showed as little to no contact, Ibrahimovic chose to recognize the quality of Shinyashiki’s play instead of blaming refereeing.
The play was too far away from me. The only thing I saw was [Shinyashiki] dribbled [Giancarlo Gonzalez] in the box. If you allow somebody to dribble you like that, then there are consequences.”
Abubakar gets it right
With Sam Vines out due to Illness, Lala Abubakar slotted in as an emergency right back for Colorado – and it worked. It was a good display not only from Abubakar, but a saavy coaching move by Fraser.
It was Abubakar’s first time ever playing the position as a professional.
“The coach called us in the office and he asked me if I ever played right back. I told him ‘no’. He told me I’d play right back. But we are all professionals so the best thing you can do is focus and execute it. They told me to stop Pavon and I knew if I stopped that guy, we’d have a chance to win,” Abubakar explained postgame.
The defensive performance impressed Fraser, as well.
“We had a center back playing right back, we had a right back playing left back, we had two left footed center backs and the guys just did what they needed to do,” he said.
Three on the bounce
The Robin Fraser head coaching era in Colorado continues its honeymoon phase as the Rapids have now won three in a row under the former Colorado player and have scored six goals total.
To little surprise, his system has done well to keep the attacking players happy.
“What he brings is positional play,” Shinyashiki said of Fraser’s system. “It’s very similar to what my coach in college did so I’m very happy. Creating overloads and being in the right positions is what he’s brought.”
Aside from tactics, Colorado also looks to be working together in harmony.
Said Fraser, “I’m so proud — I’m so proud of the team. You look at the players that they have, obviously some very accomplished players — then you look at our group and they just play as a team — they play for each other, they fight for each other, and play cohesively offensively and defensively. Every week — it’s been three weeks, but every week I think — well, that was a good one, but what happens next week? What keeps happening is that they keep playing like a team. As a result, they keep getting good results. It’s been really a fun start for me as a coach and I feel really happy to be a part of this group.”