COMMERCE CITY – A forgettable night for Colorado Rapids made for some memorable moments for Austin FC on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The visitors’ 3-1 win featured the first-year club’s first goal, scored by Diego Fagundez, and first victory after three second-half scores came in quick succession.
“It seems to be a theme with us. We’ve talked about it since last year,” Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki said. “When we give up one goal, the floodgates open and we give up two or three, and it happens consistently with us. That’s something we have to change.”
For Rapids coach Robin Fraser a lot of the issues in both halves came down to the team’s ability to keep the ball.
“We have to be better with our possession. … When we possess well, we’re able to set up decent opportunities,” Fraser said. “If we don’t possess well, then you don’t really get a chance to disrupt the way they want to defend. A lot of our issues — not all of our issues — but a lot of our issues came down to our inability to keep the ball.”
Shinyashiki scored the Rapids’ first goal of the season 36 minutes in, heading a Jack Price corner kick inside the far post. William Yarbrough made his first save in first-half stoppage time, and the Rapids rode Shinyashiki’s strike to a 1-0 advantage at the break.
“You can ask if I feel good about scoring a goal. No, I don’t,” Shinyashiki said. “At the end of the day, we lost a game at home, and that’s it.”
Things changed quickly in the second half.
Cecilio Dominguez announced the changing of momentum with a shot on goal in the first 30 seconds of the second half. A few minutes later, Austin’s No. 10 sent a free kick from a tight angle off the crossbar. The Rapids were able to clear that chance but conceded nearly an hour into the action.
Fagundez was waiting, and hoping, the ball would make it to him and the far post nearly 60 minutes in. When it did, he had a simple finish to equalize and was up to the task. Roughly seven minutes later, Dominguez put Austin in front when he picked up a loose ball after Danny Wilson’s tackle on Jon Gallagher and curled a shot inside the far post. Dominguez scored his second, Austin’s third, in the 71st minute.
“He just showed up in good spots and spots that create indecision for defenders,” Fraser said of Dominguez. “He’s an intelligent player who moved about the field well and found good spots.”
Jonathan Lewis, who replaced Michael Barrios in the 66th minute, had the Rapids’ best chance after the hosts fell behind by two, but Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver pushed Lewis’ shot out for a corner, which was cleared.
The Rapids finished with a 19-14 edge in shots, while Austin’s seven shots on goal were one more than Colorado’s total. Six of Austin’s shots on goal and 11 in total came in the second half.
“In the first half we were able to find some decent counter-attacking moments, win balls in good spots, and we were able to use the space behind them. We still weren’t as comfortable in possession as we would’ve liked to have been, but we were able to find counter-attacking moments and create some pretty dangerous situations for ourselves,” Fraser said. “In the second half, we just didn’t win the balls in the same spots, which I think didn’t allow us to have the same sort of counter-attacking opportunities.”
The Rapids were again without left back Sam Vines and center back Lalas Abubakar. Steven Beitashour and Braian Galvan also were not available. Austin had to replace left back Ben Sweat in the 23rd minute. He was stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Zan Kolmanic.
The Rapids have more than a week to rest and recover before taking on Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 2. The Rapids will sit on one point through two matches when they face the Whitecaps.
“Our resolve has to be that it’s going to be better,” Fraser said.