The Colorado Rapids are leading the Supporters’ Shield race. If anyone had mentioned this in March, they would have been laughed at.
However, that is the reality as Kevin Doyle marked his return with two goals to lead the Rapids past the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday night. The victory moved Colorado one point above FC Dallas for the league’s No. 1 seed with two games left.
The loss for the Earthquakes officially eliminated the team from postseason contention. That was the third loss in the Quakes’ last four matches in MLS.
The opening 20 minutes produced little of note as both teams fought for possession. Eventually, Marc Burch found space on the left flank and picked out Doyle with a precise cross. The Irishman made the run and powered a header into the top right corner to open the scoring.
Colorado nearly doubled the lead after Dominique Badji rounded goalkeeper David Bingham, but his shot was stopped on the line by defender Victor Bernardez.
San Jose started brightly in the second half and was eventually handed a lifeline with a penalty. Chris Wondolowski buried the spot kick for his 12th goal of the season.
The Rapids earned a penalty of their own about 15 minutes later after Fatai Alashe hauled down Dillon Powers in the box off a corner. Doyle converted from 12 yards out to give the hosts the lead again.
Colorado continued to push for a third goal and hit the side netting on several occasions through Doyle and Powers. However, the Quakes had a legitimate penalty shout on a potential handball from Badji, but the referee waved off the claims.
The Rapids will face the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Sunday as they will try to keep their lead atop the Supporters’ Shield standings. The Earthquakes battle the Vancouver Whitecaps on the same day.
Man of the Match
The Rapids were not struggling without Kevin Doyle, but his return could be crucial with the playoffs beginning in a couple of weeks. The Irish forward’s brace could be the difference in Colorado winning the Supporters’ Shield and finishing in second place in the Western Conference.
Moment of the Match
Doyle’s opener was as pretty as they come. It was a complete team goal from Marc Burch’s inch-perfect cross to the bullet header into the top corner.
Match to Forget
A foul like the one from Fatai Alashe on Dillon Powers is hardly ever called for a penalty, but it was a legitimate call and led to the Quakes’ downfall in the second half.