Minnesota United FC had not lost a game in 2020 when scoring first entering Sunday night’s do-or-die matchup against the Colorado Rapids — and the Loons still haven’t.
Minnesota netted an early goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs match at Allianz Field, then sat back and countered any Rapids chances to claim a 3-0 victory that ended Colorado’s season.
The Loons used the Rapids’ youth against them and outworked Colorado. Emanuel Reynoso assisted on all three scores and Kevin Molino scored twice to send the Rapids packing.
A benign throw-in on the Rapids’ side of the field turned disastrous in the 22nd minute when sloppy defending let a ball squirt through. Molino won the loose ball to Reynoso, who dribbled to the top of the box before being taken off the ball. It was left for Molino straight away and he sent it past William Yarbrough. The play originated on the left side of the field where Sam Vines normally would be. The Rapids ironman started the game on the bench because of a hamstring injury.
Less than 10 minutes later Reynoso tried to capitalize on the counter-attack. A three-on-one rush for the Loons ended with Reynoso hitting the post.
Just after the break, the Rapids came out on fire. Getting top-notch scoring chances, the Rapids were not able to score. Cole Bassett had a few opportunities in a several-minute span, including one where goalie Dayne St. Clair was on the ground but Bakaye Dibassy cleared it off the goaline. There was a sequence that ended with Nico Benezet being dragged down in the box but no foul was called. The Rapids are the only team in MLS to not earn a penalty kick this year.
The pressure without punctuation was costly. An errant pass from Jack Price was intercepted in the midfield which led to a 3-on-3 counter the other way. Reynoso grounded a pass wide to Robin Lod. The Finnish attacker finished the rush by catching Yarbrough out of position, making Minnesota’s lead 2-0.
A tired Rapids team could not do much when Molino found a loose ball in the box in the 79th minute. Molino chipped it over Yarbrough, giving the Loons their third goal. A good passing play from Reynoso and Jan Gregus led to the insurance score.
The Rapids had a fantastic end to their season collecting three wins over five matches in 15 days. The chaotic 2020 has come to an end but the future is bright.
Colorado fielded one of the youngest teams in MLS this season and got most of their production from the kids. The club’s goal is to become an annual playoff team, which cannot happen unless you make the postseason the first time.
The Rapids seem to have found their leader as Robin Fraser is the winningest coach in club history through his first 25 games. There are moves to be made this offseason to help the young core, but ultimately the Rapids’ future will be based on the development of their younger players.
Minnesota United plays at Children’s Mercy Park on Dec. 1 or Dec. 2 against Western Conference top-seed Sporting Kansas City, which won its first-round game Sunday against San Jose in a wild match that went to penalty kicks.