"Contributions from everyone": Colorado Rapids on verge of West's top spot

Robin Fraser has high praise for the Colorado Rapids’ team-first mentality. And while that might sound like coachspeak, a 1-0 win over the previously red-hot San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night at PayPal Park is a perfect example.

With influential midfielders Kellyn Acosta and Mark-Anthony Kaye with their respective national teams during this international window, Fraser had to change his lineup. Veteran Collen Warner filled in at midfield, Lucas Esteves made his first start since joining the club on loan from Palmeiras last month and Braian Galvan was a left-sided wingback in Fraser’s starting XI.

“The resilience of the group once again, and really the contributions by everyone – it’s really gratifying when you have that many players on the same page,” Fraser said after the match. “We make changes and we don’t lose anything. We keep or pick the energy level up even more. Really proud of the team overall.”

Then an early injury to Lalas Abubakar, who exited after a clash of heads with Jeremy Ebobisse, forced Fraser to bring on Drew Moor as part of the back three after just six minutes.

“Again, everyone is disrupted if a player leaves early and Lalas left extremely early. Now Drew comes in,” Fraser said. “The dynamics are just slightly different. But, again, what a testament to the team mentality. Guys just adapted, adjusted.”

There were plaudits sprinkled throughout the squad and that was especially true on the decisive goal scored by Dom Badji, his first in his second stint with the Rapids after arriving via a trade with Nashville SC in late July.

It's the third goal by a substitute in the Rapids’ last five games, two of those game-winners, and Badji’s goal marked the second time in the last four games that a substitute has scored the game-winner.

Badji’s 34th career MLS regular-season goal capped “a really well-executed counterattack,” according to Fraser.

It’s also another sign of how well things are going for the Rapids, who are unbeaten in their last seven and moved into second place in the Western Conference, one point behind the Seattle Sounders, but with a game in hand and a better points per game (1.95) than the conference leaders.

“I think there are minutes out there waiting for everyone, but the fact of the matter is we’re getting contributions from everyone and that’s why we’re getting the results we are,” Fraser said. “Some days guys are going to have more minutes than others, but at the end of the day, we’re all going in the same direction. The great thing about this team is that it feels like guys are willing to do whatever is asked of them.”