Photo: John Babiak
UPDATE: The Round of 16 draw was conducted by the US Soccer Federation and it was determined that the Houston Dynamo will host the Colorado Rapids in the next round.
In the first ever US Open Cup meeting between two professional teams from the Centennial State, the Colorado Rapids cruised to a 4-1 victory over visiting Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
The Rapids, often criticized for fielding weaker lineups in the Open Cup, ran out a starting eleven comprised of mostly reserves players and players returning United Soccer League loans or US youth team call-ups, but the team showed no signs of struggling against the visitors from the USL.
In the end, Colorado advanced to the fifth round behind goals from Dominique Badji, Joseph Greenspan and a brace from Dillon Serna.
Serna, making his first start of the year for the Rapids, also notched an assist. Greenspan scored in his professional debut, just weeks after finishing his spring semester at the US Naval Academy.
Colorado Springs started off the game with a vicious attack, looking for an early goal. Led by forward Aaron King and midfielder Shintaro Harada, the visitors pushed the ball up in dangerous areas but could not get past an impressive centerback pairing of Greenspan and Shane O’Neill.
Photo: John Babiak
The Switchbacks’ best chances came early in the first half, as they forced Rapids goalkeeper Zac MacMath to make three saves.
The Rapids were more effective with their chances and quickly took control of the game. The scoring began in the 26th minute when rookie Badji, held onside by right-back Jordan Burt, snuck behind the Switchbacks backline and redirected a Sam Cronin through-ball into the back of the net.
Minutes later, the 6-foot-6 Greenspan rose above the backline and headed in the second goal off a Serna free kick.
In the second half, the Rapids took control after frustration eventually got the best of Colorado Springs defender Josh Phillips, who earned a 62nd minute red card for a reckless tackle on Badji.
With a replacement centerback waiting to enter the game, Serna weaved his way through the depleted Switchbacks backline and scored the third Rapids goal.
Colorado Springs got on the board in extra time when substitute Luke Vercollone slipped away from his defender on a Switchbacks’ counterattack, but the Rapids restored their three-goal advantage about two minutes later.
Argentine imports Luis Solignac and Lucas Pittinari tore apart the undermanned Colorado Springs defense, with Solignac passing the ball across the open face of goal for Serna to tap in.