COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Shield Hunt continues for the Colorado Rapids.
After a wild second half marked by controversy and penalties awarded to both sides, Colorado survived Thursday night's visit by the San Jose Earthquakes to earn a 2-1 victory. With the win, the Rapids edged FC Dallas for sole possession of first place in the Supporters' Shield standings with two regular-season matches remaining.
“I think it was another fantastic performance; a fantastic result,” Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame. “We grew into the game in both halves and I was really proud of the way we kept pushing the game, kept pressing the game. We created some of the best opportunities of the year in that second half. When I say ‘proud of the effort,’ it transcends the field. It encompasses the whole group and for that, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Kevin Doyle’s 38th-minute diving header proved crucial, adding pizzazz to the Irish international’s return to the lineup – in a No. 10 role, no less – after his recovery from an ankle injury suffered a month ago.
“One of the reasons you want to look at him in the No. 10 is because he does a great job ghosting into the box when the ball goes out wide,” Mastroeni explained. “His movement to get into that position was fantastic and he showed his class with the finish.”
But Colorado’s lead wouldn’t hold up for long, as Rapids defender Eric Miller fouled Quakes striker Chris Wondolowski in Colorado’s box. Wondo buried the spot kick past Tim Howard to level the score at 1-1 in the 57th minute.
More controversy erupted when Dominique Badji was brought down by Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham in the San Jose box, but no penalty was awarded. Four minutes later however, Colorado would earn a PK call of their own when it was ruled that Fatai Alashe pulled down Dillon Powers on a Rapids corner kick.
Doyle buried the ensuing penalty, and this time around, the Rapids wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
“We’re so full of confidence and full of belief, that even when we find the rough patches in games, we find ways to persevere,” Mastroeni said. “It’s been a common theme and one that puts us in a great position moving into the last two games of the season.”
Having increased their franchise-record mark for points in a season to 57, Colorado now face a tough road contest at Portland on Sunday (5 pm ET; ESPN in US, MLS LIVE in Canada), still with their eyes on the club’s first ever Supporters' Shield.
“A lot of people might not understand the impact of travel in this league and how it affects players’ ability to recover and then play again,” Mastroeni said of the road ahead. “Now we’re off to Portland to play on turf. I look forward to a very spirited performance and one that will give us the best chance to get a result.”