New Mexico Outduels Colorado Rapids in 4th Round of US Open Cup

US Open Cup

COMMERCE CITY, CO – In the 4th round of the U.S Open Cup, New Mexico United clocked in a gutsy performance against a Colorado Rapids side who is unbeaten in their last five MLS matches. New Mexico trailed 2-1 throughout the entire 2nd half but the USL Championship squad pulled off a miracle comeback. First, Kevaughn Frater scored the equalizer with just seconds left remaining in regulation. They then went on to hold off the Rapids in overtime and defeated them in penalty kicks.

New Mexico scored almost immediately to start the match, when Devon Sandoval snuck one in on a corner-kick. It was apparent after this goal that New Mexico had a more open style of play, especially on the counter-attack. Colorado was able to maintain a decent amount of possession in the first half but their efforts on goal were forced. Diego Rubio was able to tie the game 1-1 after a header that snuck past United keeper Cody Mizell.

Colorado capitalized immediately in the 2nd half when Nicolas Mezquida slotted a shot into the top-right corner, giving them a 2-1 lead. This would be the high point for Colorado as they eventually lost Axel Sjoberg to his 2nd yellow card. At this point, New Mexico dominated the ball. By the end of regulation, New Mexico United held the ball 66% of the time.

On the overall momentum for the Rapids, Colorado Head Coach Conor Casey said, “the game kind of went the way that we thought it was going to go, we weren’t able to really threaten them as much on the break as we would’ve liked pace-wise and create chances, but we never really felt that we were in too big of danger.”

Colorado’s defense stepped up however despite being down to 10 players. Just when the Rapids were ready to seal the victory, United forward Kevaughn Frater intercepted a clearance just outside of the Rapids box and laced a shot past keeper Clint Irwin. Regulation time concludes at a 2-2 draw.

In extra time, the players were carrying refrigerators on their backs. With the pace considerably slowed down, any through ball or a lucky bounce gave attackers a 1 on 1 chance at goal. Even then the weak shots at the goalie would make you think they hit a medicine ball. There was no real indication of a game-winner during extra time, which led us to penalty kicks.

The penalty duel reflected plenty about both teams’ approach to the game. New Mexico United played fearlessly and with nothing to lose where the Rapids played a conservative and controlled style. The glaring issues on the Rapids penalty kicks were the misses from Danny Wilson and Cole Basset. United keeper, Mizell, guessed correctly and saved Wilson’s shot. Basset somehow managed to launch the ball into the stands which mirrored a chance he had in the 2nd half.

About his team’s performance, Bassett said, “A little slow coming out, it’s especially poor giving a goal off of a set piece that early, I should have cleared the ball better to start, but we don’t do a good job there, we weren’t in the right spots initially. We did well to get back into the game and take the lead, that was good from us, but we opened up the field too much for them.”

Beyond the Rapids conceding their five-game streak without a loss, this match puts New Mexico United on the map as potential MLS competitors. With the victory, they advance to the Round of 16 for the U.S Open Cup. As for Colorado, they will look to bounce back in their next MLS match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 22nd.

Written by Paul Fritz

Image Courtesy Colorado Rapids Communications

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