COMMERCE CITY — Leave it to the talismen to find clutch goals.
The Colorado Rapids managed to do that Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, as Diego Rubio scored his career-high 12th goal of the season, and the teams finished level at 1-1.
Columbus Crew’s Cucho Hernandez opened the scoring in the fifth minute, with his sixth goal in the last seven games. After the Crew’s first corner kick of the night was cleared, the play was recycled back into the mix, as Pedro Santos delivered a brilliant ball which fell in between Kegan Rosenberry and Lucas Esteves. Hernandez didn’t get a clean foot away but still flicked it home to make it 1-0.
It was the third time in the last three games that the Rapids conceded a goal in the opening 10 minutes.
After being under the cosh by Columbus’ heavy pressure for the opening 25 minutes, Colorado at last opened up with a few half-chances. In the 23rd minute, Gyasi Zardes thought he scored against his old team after he was denied from point-blank range and put home the rebound. But after a replay from the Video Assistant Referee, he was deemed to be in an offside position.
Colorado had a pair of corner kick opportunities, including a header from Lalas Abubakar that went wide.
In the 40th minute, Michael Barrios sent in a high cross which Jonathan Lewis was the first to try to head on. However, it hit off the hand of Steven Moreria and referee Jon Freemon didn’t hesitate to point to the penalty kick spot.
Diego Rubio sent goalkeeper Eloy Room the wrong way and made personal history in the process to even the game at 1-1. Rubio’s 12th goal of the season, a new career-high for the Chilean, was also the eighth consecutive game in which he has contributed either a goal or an assist, which tied a career-best mark dating back to 2019.
Another first-half storyline was the feistiness, as five yellow cards were shown to both teams. The Rapids were issued three, while the Crew were shown two. Lucas Esteves’ card in the 28th minute meant he will be suspended for the next match due to accumulation.
Even with a fiery first half, it remained 1-1.
In the second half, both teams came out not playing to lose and shifted to a defensive mindset, though the Crew had a half-chance seconds into the half, but Abubakar, the former Crew man, headed away the danger.
Colorado made a pair of changes in the 63rd minute, as Lewis was replaced by Sam Nicholson, while Steven Beitashour replaced Esteves.
The best chance for Colorado came in the 63rd minute. Nicholson had a shot that took a wicked deflection, but Room saw the curling ball and was able to make a good save.
Late in the game, 18-year-old substitute Dantouma “Yaya” Toure came on in the 86th minute. He tried to make an immediate impact after chasing a loose back pass to the Crew goalkeeper, but unfortunately his foot got caught in the grass near the goalkeeper’s six-yard box and immediately went down. He left injured and Colorado finished the match with 10 men as the team was out of substitution windows. Following the game, he was carted off.
Additionally, in the seven minutes of added time, a red card was shown to the Rapids’ technical staff. It finished 1-1.
The Rapids (8-9-7, 31 points) will travel north of the border to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday at BC Place. Kickoff will be at 8 p.m. MDT.