It might not have been as crisp as the scoreboard indicated, but first half goals from Edu and Andre Akpan and a second half injury time tally from Kamani Hill allowed the Colorado Rapids to advance in the US Open Cup with a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies Tuesday night, marking the first time since 2007 that the Rapids have advanced beyond the tournament’s play-in stage.
With a boisterous home crowd egging them on, the Rowdies nearly scored several times in the first half, hitting the crossbar twice in the first five minutes, but a quick counter-strike from the Rapids allowed the visitors to control the scoreboard early on.
It came in the 15th minute, when Wells Thompson’s shot was swatted down in the area, giving the Rapids a penalty kick. Edu wouldn’t miss from the spot for the newcomer’s first goal in a Rapids uniform and a 1-0 lead.
Despite the Rowdies controlling most of the offensive opportunities in the opening 45, in the 33rd minute it was the Rapids who struck, and again Thompson found himself at the heart of the action. The midfielder fought off two Tampa Bay defenders and slotted a perfect through ball to Akpan, who blistered a sharp-angled shot past Rowdies keeper Jeff Attinella for the 2-0 halftime lead.
Tampa Bay drew several second half stops out of Rapids backup keeper Steward Ceus, but the big 'keeper was up to the task as Colorado added Hill’s long-distance strike for the 3-0 lead. Later on in second half injury time, the Rowdies added a Matt Clare consolation score, but by then the game was already long decided.
With the victory, the Rapids will next travel to face Sporting Kansas City match in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The Rapids won’t return to MLS regular-season action until June 16 when they’ll be at Vancouver.
COL - Edu (penalty kick) 17'
COL - Andre Akpan 33'
COL - Kamani Hill (Andre Akpan) 90+
TAM - Matt Clare (Luke Mulholland) 92+
COL - Wells Thompson (caution) 54'
TAM - Draymond Washington (caution) 56'
COL - Tyrone Marshall (caution) 57'
Colorado Rapids lineup: Stew Ceus, Hunter Freeman (Kosuke Kimura 72'), Tyrone Marshall, Scott Palguta, Luis Zapata, Harrison Henao (Joseph Nane 58'), Wells Thompson, Jaime Castrillon (Tony Cascio 67'), Kamani Hill, Andre Akpan, Edu
Available subs: Ian Joyce, Drew Moor, Eddie Ababio, Martin Rivero
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.