The Colorado Rapids have been desperately looking for that spark of confidence to reignite their faltering season. With a reserve-laden squad traveling to El Salvador, Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League match at Isidro Metapán didn’t seem like a likely rallying cry.
But the Rapids shocked everyone – including possibly even themselves – with a 3-1 victory and gave the defending MLS Cup champions just the lift they needed given an eight-game winless run in all competitions dating back to August 20.
With a huge league game coming up at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park against FC Dallas on Saturday, the surprising victory was just what the doctor ordered.
“It was a great game for not only the guys down here, but also for the club in general,” Omar Cummings (above), who netted Colorado’s third goal, told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “This group of players steps up for these big games – we saw that in MLS Cup last year. It’s a team that fights for each other.”
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Assistant coach Steve Guppy, who took charge of the team Wednesday as head coach Gary Smith stayed behind in Colorado, was ecstatic about the result, even as he declared tongue-in-cheek it would be his first and last time coaching given the stress such games can cause.
“This is a historic result,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “What the players have done is truly remarkable. It feels so special to be involved in it and I am so proud of the players.”
Smith will no doubt enjoy a certain amount of satisfaction after the barrage of criticism he faced for sending such an inexperienced group down to El Salvador – and for his decision not to make the trip himself. Even he, though, said he was shocked by the fact that Eddie Ababio, making his professional debut, was the player who scored the crucial opening goal.
“How can you ever plan for that?” Smith told MLSsoccer.com from Denver. “This is a sensational result and you’ve got to give the players so much praise for their endeavors and determination.”
Smith said earlier in the week that the group of players in El Salvador had the one job to concentrate on with very few players likely to be involved in Saturday’s Dallas match. But the head coach believes the boost from Wednesday’s unlikely victory would carry through to the first-teamers.
“This was much, much needed,” he said. “This group [in CCL] have had that to focus on this week while the group that was left behind will now be helped by tonight to hopefully get the job done at the weekend.”