DENVER – It was another U.S. Open Cup upset as United Soccer League side Nashville SC downed the Colorado Rapids 2-0 at Vanderbilt Stadium Wednesday night. A first-half own goal from Rapids midfielder Micheal Azira and a second-half header from Nashville forward Ropapa Mensah marked the difference between the struggling Major League Soccer side and the franchise set to join MLS in the next two years.
Little separated Nashville and Colorado in the first half, as the sides spent time exchanging possession with few runs of threatening play. But Nashville looked up to the task early, playing a high press and looking forward in attack.
With stated intent to play a strong side, Anthony Hudson indeed put out several first-team players, but Colorado’s lineup did feature some changes as Dillon Serna got the start at left back, Marlon Hairston made a return at right back following an injury hiatus and Zac MacMath got the start in goal.
Colorado’s best opportunity to go in front came in the 25th minute when Dillon Serna whipped in a dangerous cross from the left flank, but the danger was punched away by former Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens for Nashville. In the 32nd minute, Rapids midfielder Sam Nicholson had an open opportunity on goal, but his shot went well wide of the mark.
After weathering the early chances, Nashville went in front in the 38th minute as Justin Davis’ cross deflected off Rapids midfielder Micheal Azira for an own goal, putting the hosts up 1-0.
Despite Colorado controlling 55 percent of the first-half possession and neither side able to put a shot on target, the hosts held onto the 1-0 advantage as both teams entered halftime.
Nashville carried momentum into the start of the second half. A through ball was played in to Lebo Moloto, but his shot was saved by Rapids ‘keeper Zac MacMath.
Nashville doubled its lead in the 78th minute, however, as Liam Doyle crossed a ball in to Mensah, who headed in the effort to extend the hosts’ lead to 2-0.
With the defeat, Colorado’s losing streak extended to eight games across all competitions. The Rapids will now fly to Houston to face the Dynamo in a return to MLS action Saturday night.