Micky Tapias’ header sends Minnesota United to 2-1 victory over Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids finally scored their first goal of the season, but Minnesota United eventually won in suburban Denver with a 2-1 comeback win on Saturday.

Newly acquired defender Micky Tapias’ header from a 25-yard free-kick in the 82nd minute proved the winner on an evening when all three goals came after half-time.

Until then, the Loons had been 0-5-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Field – and that one tie came in the third game of their inaugural season in March 2017.

“It took a long time,” Loons coach Adrian Heath, who was there for all of them, said in a post-game video call. “It’s been a good couple of weeks for us.”

Including a bye week, the Loons have started the season 2-0-1, playing a different style without the suspended and absent star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso.

They did that with a 1-0 win in the season opener at FC Dallas and a 1-1 draw in the snow at Allianz Field last week in their home opener.

On Saturday, at altitude and in 43-degree cold weather, they won against a Rapids team that had gone 0-5 and hadn’t scored in the losses, 4-0 to Seattle, 1-0 to San Jose and a 1-1 -Draw with Sporting Kansas City.

“It was a good start for us,” said Heath. “Going to Dallas and coming to Colorado, traditionally difficult places to come to, makes me very happy. We took six points from two away games.”

Heath left the usual starters Franco Fragapane, Wil Trapp and Zarek Valentin out of Saturday’s starting XI. That decision should save her from injury risks and protect her for next Saturday’s home game against Vancouver when seven teammates face Vancouver for a home game on duty with their national teams.

On Saturday, the Loons’ two goals came from second-half substitute Luis Amarilla’s 54th-minute penalty and Tapias’ deflected free-kick from Fragapane into a crowd in the 18-yard box.

With Reynoso absent, Fragapane has become the Loons’ designated saver for set kicks. He did so on Saturday when he came on for Hassani Dotson who came on from half-time.

Fragapane hit the 25-yard free-kick and Tapias found space in the crowd to raise the ball and flick the ball straight into the right post.

Tapia’s first goal in his third MLS game, eliminated from Mexico’s Liga MX, was available to the winner.

“It’s huge for us,” said defender DJ Taylor, who made his season debut by starting at right-back. “Obviously we miss Rey. The fact that we can do this as a team no matter who comes on the field for a game has been huge for us mentally and has built our camaraderie. Every game was fantastic.”

After a goalless first half, the teams traded goals within four minutes early in the second half.

Colorado midfielder Cole Bassett scored his team’s first goal in game four of the season.

The Loons gave Bassett too much space and time on a ball played off the right wing that went over everyone until Bassett contained it on the other side of the 18-yard box.

Bassett hit two defenders with a left foot angle punch that eluded them and everyone else. That included Loon’s goalie Dayne St. Clair, who couldn’t help but roll straight into the far right post.

It came in the 49th minute, just four minutes before Amarilla converted a handball penalty.

Amarilla’s equalizer came in the 53rd minute after Colorado defenseman Danny Wilson stretched his arm too far outside his body.

Amarilla came on after replacing starting forward Mender Garcia at half-time and scored when Rapids goaltender William Yarbrough tapped to his right and Amarilla hit a shot the other way.

The Rapids soon had three dangerous scoring chances, including Wilson’s header from a free kick that hit both St. Clair’s hand and the crossbar.

Heath’s lineup reconfiguration made Dotson a central midfield starter alongside Kervin Arriaga for the first time since a cruciate ligament rupture last April that ended his 2022 season.

It also brought Joseph Rosales to Fragapane’s place, alongside versatile midfielder Robin Lod at center and Bongokuhle Hlongwane at right wing. Taylor started from the back where Valentin started for the first two weeks of the season.

Lod moved to the No. 10 playmaker spot vacated by Reynoso.

Lod is on his way to his Finnish team, as are Hondurans Arriaga and Rosales to theirs. St. Clair of Canada, Hlongwane of South Africa, Michael Boxall of New Zealand and Kemar Lawrence of Jamaica will also be absent.

This seven started on Saturday. All of these players are expected back for a game on April 1st in St. Louis CITY.

The Star Tribune did not send the author of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.

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