The Colorado Rapids traveled to Tampa on Tuesday determined not to become one of what became many upsets of MLS teams, and fielded a full-strength side against the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. The tactic worked to full effect, and the Rapids came away with a 3-1 win in the Third Round of the Open Cup. Brazilian striker Edu and Andre Akpan put the game away early for Colorado, and Kamani Hill added some late insurance before Rowdies sub Matt Clare salvaged a goal late in stoppage time.
With the win, the Rapids pick up their first Open Cup victory since 2007, after failing to qualify for the tournament four years in a row before qualification was done away with this year. Colorado moves on to face Sporting Kansas City next Tuesday in the Fourth Round as they attempt to win back-to-back tournament games for the first time since 1999.
Tampa, playing a more aggressive 4-3-3 to the MLS side’s 4-4-2; missed an early opportunity to put the Rapids on their heels, as striker Luke Mullholland hit the crossbar two minutes in, and Colorado keeper Steward Ceus gobbled the ball up for the save. The Rowdies were forced on their heels shortly after, with keeper Jeff Attinella forced to defends shots by strikers Andre Akpan and Edu, and midfielders Hill and Wells Thompson. However, a Tampa Bay defender was called for a handball in the box at 17 minutes, and Attinella guessed wrong on Edu’s penalty kick.
The Rowdies picked up their game after the opening goal, with Mulholland and Daniel Antoniuk both forcing saves from Ceus. The Rapids counterattacked after Antoniuk’s miss, and Thompson slotted to Akpan, who put it inside the far post two double their lead. Tampa couldn’t capitalize on chances by Antoniuk and Mike Ambersley late in the half, and the score remained 2-0 to the away squad at the half.
The second half was much quieter, with neither team able to capitalize on their minutes. One particularly chippy stretch included three yellow cards in three minutes: two to Colorado (Thompson and Tyrone Marshall), with Tampa Bay’s Draymond Washington earning the other. Colorado solidified their defense late, stopping shots by Washington and sub Fafa Picault late. Akpan turned giver late, as Hill put away his pass a minute into stoppage time, and Clare took a pass from Mulholland past Ceus to round out the scoring a minute later.
Colorado will travel to Sporting Kansas City next week, as KC survived a 3-2 battle with USL Pro side Orlando City SC. They will meet at 7:30 PM Central time at Livestrong Sporting Park, with a place in the Quarterfinals at stake.
COL- Steward Ceus (GK); Hunter Freeman (Kosuke Kimura 72′), Tyrone Marshall, Scott Palguta, Luis Zapata; Wells Thompson, Harrison Henao (Joseph Nane 58′), Kamani Hill, Jaime Castrillon (Tony Cascio 67′); Andre Akpan, Edu
TB- Jeff Attinella (GK); Frankie Sanfilippo, Andres Arango, Takuya Yamada, Draymond Washington; Stuart Campbell, Shane Hill, Keith Savage (Fafa Picault 61′); Luke Mulholland, Mike Ambersley, Daniel Antoniuk (Matt Clare 72′)
COL- Edu (PK) 17′
COL- Andre Akpan (Wells Thompson) 33′
COL- Kamani Hill (Andre Akpan) 90+1′
TB- Matt Clare (Luke Mulholland) 90+2′
TB- Daniel Antoniuk 19′ (yellow)
COL- Wells Thompson 55′ (yellow)
TB- Draymond Washington 56′ (yellow)
COL- Tyrone Marshall 57′ (yellow)
COL- Steward Ceus 90+2′ (yellow)
Shots: COL- 13; TB- 13
Saves: COL- 6; TB- 6
Fouls: COL- 18; TB- 14
Corners: COL- 3; TB- 6
Offsides: COL- 2; TB- 5