Apr 14, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Jack Price (19) (center) celebrates his goal in the first half of the match against the Toronto FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Against a Toronto FC lineup primarily made of depth players, the Colorado Rapids earned their second straight home victory. Goals from Jack Price and Shkëlzen Gashi marked the difference in a 2-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Entering Saturday’s match, Toronto centerback and former Rapids captain Drew Moor was the only holdover in TFC’s starting XI from Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Club América. The Rapids inserted recently recovered Jack McBean (concussion protocol) and Enzo Martinez (undisclosed) as lineup changes from Colorado’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas a week ago.
“Obviously, it was a group of guys who came in, in a tough situation and put out a good effort, and we had some chances,” Toronto head coach Greg Vanney said. “A little bit tough that we gave up a goal in the first two minutes, we had some chances in the first-half and you now. The positives out of this is we had three players make their debuts for the first team and you know that was excellent. Obviously, staying healthy getting out of this was also a positive and a bonus, so that’s that.”
Colorado (2-1-2, 8 points) pressed the issue from the start, with Price striking in the 2nd minute from the top of the 18-yard box, beating TFC ‘keeper and former Rapid Clint Irwin for a 1-0 lead.
“I just saw you know, took a touch it was a bit of a, got stuck underneath being there took it out from off me feet,” Price said of the effort. “I just saw a gap and I just thought you know well I’m going to hit this. I was very happy and it was a good start for the lads.”
Toronto (1-3-0, 3 points) eventually settled the game in its favor, piecing together possession and threatening in the 16th minute, but efforts from Ben Spencer and Ager Aketxe couldn’t find the target.
Badji threatened to double the Rapids lead, but his one-on-one opportunity was deflected over the bar by Clint Irwin.
Irwin came up with another save a minute later, parrying away another shot by Badji.
But shaky moments from the Rapids defense prompted a first-half substitution by Colorado, as Kip Colvey was taken off in favor of Dillon Serna in the 38th minute. Colvey’s first-half performance left much to be desired with eight unsuccessful passes to six completed passes and just one defensive recovery.
Colorado entered halftime leading 1-0, but both sides collected 10 shots. TFC held a slight edge with 52 percent of the game’s possession.
At half, the Rapids honored centerback Kortne Ford and his mother, who continues her battle with cancer.
“I want to use this time as well to recognize the meaning of this day, Kortne and his mom,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson told reporters postgame. “Without going into detail, personally I feel quite insignificant in the whole situation but myself and the team and the staff and the club is really supportive of his mom. I want to recognize Kortne for that.”
Badji continued to feature as the Rapids’ main attacking threat, missing again in the 55th minute as his right-footed shot sailed wide. He again found opportunity in the 63rd minute, but Badji’s headed effort off a Johan Blomberg cross was wide of the mark.
Colorado’s attack received further enforcement with the substitution of Shkëlzen Gashi for Jack McBean in the 69th minute – Gashi’s first MLS minutes since October. Nine minutes later, Badji was fouled in the box by Toronto defender Liam Fraser. Gashi stepped up to take the PK and buried it to extend Colorado’s lead to 2-0 in the 78th minute.
A minute later, Rapids striker Yannick Boli subbed in for his first game minutes in Colorado. Despite Hudson opting for attacking options, Colorado held on defensively down the stretch.
With the win, Colorado is now unbeaten in four-straight matches.
“I think what we are seeing is a team that is working together, we’re not a team of individuals and that we have good players that are playing to a certain style and system, players that are stepping up,” said Hudson. “They’re all stepping up and fulfilling their role within that system as well. The biggest thing is we have a group of players that are playing for each other.”
The Rapids will now embark on a road trip next weekend to face Real Salt Lake in the teams’ first Rocky Mountain Cup match of the season.
TFC will head back to BMO field on Tuesday, hosting Chivas Guadalajara in the first league of the CONCACAF Champions League Final.