COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The New York Red Bulls are now winners of three-straight matches, as goals from Daniel Royer and Derek Etienne propelled the visitors to a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
Conversely, Colorado lost its fourth consecutive match, despite substitute Jack McBean finding the net for the first time this season with his 85th-minute goal.
“You can probably expect a team that’s been on a run to be a little bit lacking confidence and lacking the willingness to take the game to what is one of the top teams,” said Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson. “In spite of our last three games, I thought the mentality, the attitude, the drive was outstanding.”
New York found the score sheet not long after the opening whistle. Royer dribbled past Rapids right back Bismark Adjei-Boateng, also known as Nana, and slid his low shot past a diving Tim Howard to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
Aside from conceding early, it was an unfortunate start for Colorado, which was forced into a late lineup change as Dominique Badji was taken off in pregame warmups due to hamstring tightness. Badji was replaced at striker by French-born Ivorian Yannick Boli. It marked the first start of the season for the 30-year-old forward.
“It’s a big loss,” said Rapids midfielder Jack Price. “With five goals this season, he’s key to how we want to play, especially with their high line. But we trust in every striker and it wasn’t a big shakeup for us.”
Despite making a pair of dangerous runs into New York’s box in the first half, Colorado was unable to find Boli from the wings. Boli finally managed a shot in the 43rd minute, which missed just wide of the post.
Colorado pressed for the remainder of the half, entering halftime with 58 percent of the game’s possession. Both teams entered halftime level on shots (4), but New York led with shots on-target (2), including Royer’s goal – which marked the difference between the two sides.
As Colorado sought an equalizer in the second half, the hosts continued to control possession. New York nearly doubled its lead in the 65th minute, but an attempt from Wright-Phillips was blocked.
New York finally found a second goal in the 76th minute with Etienne’s tally. Initially ruled offside, the call was overturned by video review, and the Red Bulls found themselves in front 2-0.
May 12, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Florian Valot (22) shoots on goal in the first half against the Colorado Rapids of the match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Hudson felt undone by the call, saying, “The explanation I got was different between the linesman, the fourth official and the referee at the end, so I’m none the wiser.”
Despite the setback, Colorado continued to press for a goal, finally ending the shutout as McBean tapped in his effort behind Luis Robles, who went to save the initial effort from Shkëlzen Gashi. The goal cut New York’s lead to 2-1, but despite a handful of attacking efforts in the remaining five minutes of regulation plus six minute of stoppage time, the Rapids could not find an equalizer.
“There were times in the game that we did so well,” said Rapids midfielder Sam Nicholson. “We really did deserve something more in the game, in my opinion, especially after we scored.”
It was a tough pill to swallow for Colorado, who believed they had reason for a penalty call as defender Tommy Smith went down in New York’s box during the final minutes.
Hudson again felt it was the wrong call by head referee Ismail Elfath and his crew.
“Tommy Smith at the end – it was a goal scoring opportunity,” said Hudson. “That’s poor.”
Colorado now heads on a long road trip to face New York City FC next Saturday, while the New York Red Bulls will travel to face Atlanta the following Sunday.
“We know it’s not good enough to lose four games in a row, we accept that’s not good enough and we accept the criticism we might get from this,” said Price. “But we’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully the results will come our way.”