Colorado stormed back from an early own goal to take a 4-1 halftime lead during what turned out to be a nine-goal scoring fest between the Rapids and Montreal Impact Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Montreal closed the gap to 4-3 in the second half, but the Rapids stayed on the gas as well, tacking on two more goals to earn a 6-3 win at home and snap a four-game winless streak.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
Lights. Kamara. Action
With a hat trick Saturday night, Rapids forward Kei Kamara reached double-digit goals on the season, making Colorado the fifth different franchise for which Kamara has accomplished that feat.
It’s an important milestone for any top-level striker in MLS, but Kamara shrugged it off as a base level of performance.
“It’s not too much pressure, but you have to hit double-digit goals,” he told reporters after the game. “You have to have a striker on your team that’s going to hit that every single year.”
For Kamara there may be no pressure, but for Colorado as a franchise it’s been a relatively rare milestone. The last time a Colorado player marked 11 goals was in 2010 when Omar Cummings (11) and Conor Casey (13) both reached that mark.
Casey, now the Rapids interim head coach, had heaps of praise for Kamara following the win.
“He was incredible,” Casey said of Kamara. “Great attitude all week. We wanted to get more service into him, because to be fair, he’s been doing a lot of the dirty work for us and hasn’t been getting a lot of reward. Today he did and he made the best of it.”
Rapids midfielder Jack Price had three assists Saturday to match Kamara’s three goals. At the beginning of the season, questions surrounded Colorado’s set pieces after specialist and designated player Shkëlzen Gashi was released by the team.
But Price has stepped up as the team’s primary set-piece taker and Colorado continues to lead the league in opportunities created from corners and free kicks.
“He was great,” Casey said of Price’s performance. “He’s been out [with injury], so it’s been great to have him back with the team. His delivery off of set pieces and his energy were both great.”
Scoring off of set pieces has been crucial in Casey’s system.
“Obviously, a lot of them came from set pieces,” he said of Colorado’s scoring opportunities. “We were clinical again on set pieces. It’s been a big part of our success this season.”
Did you die, though?
Another crucial point to the Rapids’ success under Conor Casey has been a willingness and need to continue to pressure teams offensively late into matches. This has been a sticking point particularly at home, where Colorado has the marked advantage of altitude.
Even with a 4-1 lead, Colorado continued to attack instead of bunker to try to protect the lead. It resulted in Montreal closing the gap to 4-3, but it also paid off when the Rapids were able to close the game out with the final two goals of the match.
Rapids attacker Diego Rubio explained the mentality behind the strategy best.
“At the start of the season we talked about that. At home we need to press our opponents, because we all know there’s altitude here in Colorado and they’ll probably die,” Rubio said. “We need to score goals to do that, to give us confidence, to give us more energy. So, we scored four goals and in the second half we said ‘We need to keep going.’”