The Colorado Rapids, down 1-0 and reduced to 10-men, came soaring back to beat Minnesota United FC 3-1 on Sunday at Allianz Field in St. Paul.
The short-handed Rapids got goals from Cole Bassett, Michael Barrios and Lucas Esteves to complete the improbable comeback.
Rapids defender Danny Wilson received the red card in the 57th minute, from then on the Rapids put on a Herculean effort to battle back and secure three points on the road.
“I think this team, it shows when it gets down to it at the end of games — a lot of teams lose that game, down a man, down a goal — we scored three goals,” Bassett said. “Those are the special days. We will always remember these ones. Everybody played a part today and we are happy to pick up three points because of the tight race at the top.”
The Rapids had not received a red card until last Saturday when Esteves was shown red in the second half against Seattle (a card that was later rescinded by MLS officials). Rapids captain Jack Price had said then that he thought the Rapids played better soccer after going down to 10-men, and they certainly did on Sunday afternoon.
“What it is is obviously the urgency of the moment. Where we are in the table, where we are in the time of year,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “You go down a man and it’s not even necessarily just going down a man it’s knowing that we’re down a goal, and we need to get points. And if you look at the response of the entire team, the entire group, the guys did such a great job.”
In the 64th minute, Fraser made four substitutions bring on Bassett, Barrios, Nicolás Mezquida and Lalas Abubakar.
“We’re down a man, down a goal on the road in a sort of hostile environment,” Fraser said. “You need guys who are going to come in and just block all that out and do what they need to do. And I thought for subs it is quite a lot, but I thought it was the type of thing we needed at the time.”
And it completely changed the game.
“There was never a thought that we would just try to survive,” Fraser said. “This is the type of group that you push them to strive for excellence. And it’s within their character, they just go and they give you everything they have.”
Barrios earned a penalty off of a rebound from a shot from Mezquida. It wasn’t originally called a penalty but it was granted after a VAR check. Bassett took the ball slotted into the left side of the net in the 73rd minute.
“I wanted the pen. I had the confidence to step up and take it. There’s a couple us — me, Diego (Rubio), and Jonny (Lewis) — are normally the three, at least in training, that kind of look after them and practice them a bit.
Bassett hadn’t scored since July 17 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
“I’m an attacking midfielder and I want to score goals,” Bassett said. “So for me, it was a big relief to get one and I want to keep getting into those spots.”
Barrios scored his team-leading 8th goal of the season to give the Rapids the lead 11 minutes later. And Esteves finished it off three minutes into stoppage time, scoring his first as a member of the Rapids.
Colorado showed why they are a top team in the West. It’s not because they have the most talented players (two of their top players were away on international duty) or they score the most goals. They have the one thing that every coach strives for:
“What a fantastic team,” Fraser said. “Down a goal, down a man. Such a character statement. It’s what I’ve enjoyed about this team since I got here, that they don’t quit, they don’t have quit in them. Not just down a goal, down a man–down a goal, down a man to a very, very good team and some really, really good players. Words can’t express how proud I am of this win and how proud I am of the team.”
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