COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – For the second straight year, the Colorado Rapids have punched their ticket to the Fifth Round of the US Open Cup at the expense of their intrastate USL rivals, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, in a 1-0 victory.
Dillon Serna again proved to be the difference maker for the Rapids, scoring the game winner in the 84th minute. The Rapids Homegrown buried a ball that was lofted into the air by Dominique Badji off of a corner by Marco Pappa, who made his first appearance for Colorado since early April.
“They were a good team,” Serna said postgame. “They were well organized and tough to break down. We haven’t had a game in a while, so it was good to get some minutes in the game. We were really patient and we finally got one in.”
The goal unlocked a defense which was largely effective against their MLS counterparts. Both sides entered the half scoreless and Colorado Springs continued to thwart the Rapids’ attacks with numbers behind the ball.
“I think it was the first time all year where the game plan was to sit in and give us a lot of the ball,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni explained. “It’s the most difficult thing to do in this sport. Whether you’re Spain or Portugal, when teams drop 10 behind the ball, it’s a difficult task.”
The 1-0 score line was indeed a marked improvement from the Switchbacks’ perspective, after suffering a 4-1 defeat to the Rapids in 2015.
“That’s not really the way that we play, but it was effective,” Switchbacks head coach and former Rapids player Steve Trittschuh said of his team’s performance. “It was the same message as last year. After we played here, we took off in our league and won seven or eight in a row. We’re a good, solid team.”
For Mastroeni, the play on the field was an indicator of the growing respect between the two Colorado-based clubs.
Said Mastroeni, “I know [Trittschuh] really well. Last year we loaned out Charles Eloundou. We’re in contact. I think it’s two teams that are doing really well in their respective leagues. We’ll continue working together in ways that will benefit both clubs.”