Diego Rubio’s fantastic free kick and a second clean sheet in as many away matches went down as the difference for Colorado Rapids on Sunday at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium.
Rubio’s first goal of the season came midway through the first half and helped Colorado Rapids to a 1-0 win, the club’s first of the season, over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“That was a really hard-fought win. We had, certainly, some really good moments in the game, created a number of chances. I felt like we needed to finish one of the other chances earlier, but great free kick by Diego and then it was a resolute effort as they started piling on more and more pressure,” Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. “We defended quite well, created some counterattacking opportunities. While you could say we would have loved to scored another goal, at the end of the day, they fought hard and earned a win on the road.”
Younes Namli was fouled just outside the penalty area on the left side of the field 26 minutes into the action. Rubio stepped up to take the free kick and his strike curled over Vancouver’s wall and dipped just enough the catch the bottom side of the crossbar on its way over the line.
“If that’s not MLS Goal of the Week, I don’t know,” Rapids defender Auston Trusty said. “That was a banger.”
The Rapids took 1-0 advantage back to the locker room thanks to Rubio’s goal, a couple of saves from William Yarbrough and a goal-line clearance from Danny Wilson.
“That was a good save he had,” Trusty said of his partner at center back. “We were just talking about it in the locker room. We both went to the line to try to block that, because we just weren’t taking any chances.”
Michael Barrios and substitutes Cole Bassett and Jonathan Lewis produced decent scoring opportunities in the second half, but another save or two from Yarbrough in the final 45 minutes was enough to close out the club’s first win of the season. The back line took another step toward normality, as left back Sam Vines, a Colorado Springs native, made his first appearance of the season after dealing with an injury. That allowed Kellyn Acosta to move back into the midfield.
“Vinesy gave a good, workmanlike performance,” Fraser said. “He’s not played for a number of weeks, so for him, it’s kind of getting his feet underneath him again. It was a good game from him because he was solid defensively and as he goes on, he’ll get sharper and sharper on the attack.”
The Rapids will look for their second win of the season, first at home, when Minnesota United visits Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday. Though United knocked the Rapids out of the playoffs a season ago, Fraser had no time for talk of revenge.
“It’s a new season, and we’re on to a new set of goals,” Fraser said. “It’s another opportunity for us to get better and hopefully earn three points at home.”