COMMERCE CITY, Colo.—At the end of a disappointing 2015 season, the Colorado Rapids emphasized the importance of winning home games moving forward. Saturday's 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy in the Rapids’ 2016 home opener was a big step forward in achieving that goal.

“For all of us, for all the pressure we’re putting on ourselves to be great this year, it’s always great to get a home win,” said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni.

Marco Pappa, whose game-winning goal at the death propelled Colorado to the win, echoed the importance of defending the Rapids’ home turf.

“From the beginning of the preseason we talked about the games at home,” Pappa said. “I think we showed tonight that we want to win at home. It’s very important that people respect our house.”

In addition to an all-important home victory, the goal and the win carried a special meaning for Pappa, who missed significant time in preseason due to an injury sustained in an offseason altercation.

“For me it’s not just about the goal, it’s important for me to be on the field again,” Pappa said. “Only soccer can give you this kind of feeling.”

“Nobody likes to talk about bad things in their lives,” he continued. “For me, it’s just about moving on. I have football and my family right now so that’s what I’m focused on. I want this year to be special for me. It’s important for them, not just for me. I’m focused on my family and my soccer, those are the most important things in my life right now.”

Pappa has had the full support of Mastroeni throughout the recovery process.

“Marco joined us about halfway through preseason,” Mastroeni said. “For him to get this goal tonight is very special. I’ve been babying him as far as minutes, but I think he’s going to be an integral part of everything we do this year.”

Saturday night’s win provided its fair share of elation and relief for both Pappa and the Rapids. But it’s just one step in the road Colorado will face in the ever-competitive Western Conference.

“We’ve got a long ways to go,” said Mastroeni. “But tonight is a step in the right direction. Credit to the players that go in and win games.”