Match Report: Sporting Kansas City 4-0 Colorado Rapids
It was a rusty-looking Colorado Rapids which returned to play on Saturday night and were handed a 4-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City, writes Richard Fleming.
The scoreline may raise a few eyebrows but the performance was what many feared, with the Rapids having been deprived of a competitive game for 31 days due to a Covid-19 outbreak within their ranks.
Head coach Robin Fraser admitted: "It's obviously always disappointing to lose, but the reality is we weren't as sharp tonight as we would like to have been.
"Given the time off, I can't say it's all that unexpected. The resiliency of the team was great. The fight was great. You could see it was a real struggle for us, but this is just another step in getting back to where we need to be."
For 45 minutes, the Rapids rode their luck. William Yarbrough pulled off a number of desperate saves, while Sporting KC failed to punish some uncharacteristically poor passing.
The Rapids’ luck ran out nine minutes after the restart when Alan Pulido created an opening on the edge of the penalty area, fired between the legs of Lalas Abubakar, and beyond the helpless Yarbrough.
Half chances were the best the Rapids could muster at the other end as the lack of match fitness and game sharpness became more and more apparent.
It was akin to a side in preseason against a team in its mid-season stride, which was to be expected in this case. This was the Rapids’ first game since September 23 and even the ability to train on a daily basis had been hampered due to the virus.
Failure to deal with a freekick into the box led to SKC’s second in the 67th minute. Spanish defender Andreu Fontas scored his first goal in MLS with a left-footed effort from a drop down eight yards out.
Fresh legs were introduced by Robin Fraser, and that generated a little impetus for the visitors, before they were stung by two late goals. The first fell to the busy Gadi Kinda. He collected in space and darted toward Danny Wilson, who was making his 50th MLS appearance. Kinda’s first shot was blocked by the Scotsman but fell kindly for the SKC midfielder, who stabbed it into the roof of the net with two minutes left of regulation.
Gerso, on as a sub as three minutes of stoppage time began, bagged the home side’s fourth. He turned Auston Trusty on the halfway line and ran 40 yards, with Wilson on his shoulder, and smartly lifted the ball over the incoming Yarbrough.
The Rapids need to regroup ahead of their midweek trip to Minnesota United. They will welcome back Kellyn Acosta, who missed the Sporting KC defeat due to suspension, and should be a little sharper as a result of this game.
This was clearly not the result they wanted, and it will certainly be a reminder of how tough the next four games will be as the Rapids seek to secure a place in the playoffs. The postseason is still very much a part of the conversation and though there is no shortcut to match fitness, the Rapids will be eager for a marked improvement on Wednesday night.
As Keegan Rosenberry said: "I think it almost has to be (a game we move on from quickly). The amount of games we have in such a short period of time and how important they are, we have to.
"We have to forget about this tonight. I think it'll be easy for us to forget about it and move on to Wednesday, start thinking about Minnesota."
Sporting KC: Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Roberto Puncec, Andreu Fontas, Amadou Dia; Gadi Kinda (Cam Duke 90’), Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza (Felipe Hernandez 81’); Johnny Russell (Gerso 90’), Alan Pulido (Erik Hurtado 81’), Gianluca Busio (Khiry Shelton 70’).
Subs not used: John Pulskamp, Matt Besler, Luis Martins.
Colorado Rapids: William Yarbrough; Keegan Rosenberry (Jeremy Kelly 75’), Lalas Abubakar (Auston Trusty 75’), Danny Wilson, Sam Vines; Collen Warner (Nicolas Mezquida 28’), Jack Price, Cole Bassett; Younes Namli (Jonathan Lewis 75’), Diego Rubio, Andre Shinyashiki (Nicolas Benezet 66’).
Subs not used: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Steven Beitashour, Matt Hundley.