COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The fortress walls remain unbreached. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park continues to be impenetrable for opponents of the Colorado Rapids, who remain perfect at home (6-0-0) in 2016 following their latest win, a 1-0 decision Wednesday over Sporting Kansas City.
Lifted by Dillon Serna’s second-half goal, the Rapids also remain atop the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield standings.
“It’s a midweek game for us and at times, with the run that we’re on, you might want to take the foot off the gas a little bit and take things easy,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni told reporters after the game. “But tonight was one of those games that proves you have to be focused for 90 minutes. If you stay the course, continue to work hard, and find a way, you’ll reap the benefits of that.”
Things didn’t start easy for Colorado. Without the services of Shkëlzen Gashi (illness), who scored the game winner in the two sides’ previous match-up, the Rapids were held scoreless in the first half and the team struggled to put things together offensively.
“I just think [Kansas City] came out with a little bit more fire,” Mastroeni said of the first half. “They went more aggressively after second balls.”
The tide turned in the second half however, especially after Kansas City defender Ike Opara was shown a second yellow card in the 76th minute.
Serna, whose strike off the crossbar in Colorado’s previous match against SKC led to Gashi’s game winner in the sides’ previous match-up, did one better this time around. The Rapids’ homegrown fired a shot past Tim Melia in the 78th minute, delivering another victory for Colorado, who have gone 5-0-1 over the past six games.
“That’s my job,” Serna said of the goal. “I just have to bring energy to the game. My job at the top of the box was to clean things up and counter. I had a look at the top of the box and it went in.”
Said Mastroeni: “It’s more than anything you can ask for. You want to mix it up a little bit; you want to put a guy that comes into the game on his strong foot. Serna has always had an eye for goal. We were getting on top of the game a little bit and I felt like we needed just a boost. He did more than what was asked for.”
Wednesday night’s result may not have been the easiest or the prettiest, but the Rapids head coach remains satisfied with the body of work his team has put forth through 11 games this season.
“More than anything else, these midweek games are a test of character, a test of mentality,” Mastroeni said. “We’ve got a team here that want to keep winning and today was a great performance in that it’s not always going to come away as aesthetically as you’d like. But this is not a beauty contest. It’s about winning and they got the job done.”