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It was Nashville's eighth game in 28 days and one of the best performances in the franchise's history.
Nashville (6-4-4 22 points) scored three goals in the first 17 minutes against the Rapids, who saw their 23-game unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer play snapped.
Colorado's last regular season home loss came on April 24, 2021.
Nashville's goals came over a stretch of just nine minutes.
C.J. Sapong scored in the eighth minute off an assist from Walker Zimmerman, and Hany Mukhtar followed with two goals — a rifle from left of the goal in the 14th minute and a header off an assist from Luke Haakenson three minutes later.
“I mean, it all came so thick and fast," Nashville SC coach Gary Smith said. "To get ourselves in front was, you know, a real positive step, of course. I always felt if we could get our noses just nudged in front, then we could make life quite difficult for Colorado. But I truly didn’t expect to take the sort of lead that we did."
Colorado (5-6-3 18 points) had not conceded a goal in open play this season.
The Rapids avoided the shutout when Diego Rubio scored on a free kick at the 78th minute.
The game was the first between Nashville SC and Colorado in Major League Soccer and a homecoming for Smith. He coached the Rapids from 2008-11 and won the MLS Cup in 2010.
That championship team also featured Nashville defender Kosuke Kimura and goalkeeper Matt Pickens, along with assistant coach Steve Guppy.
“The first half was sensational; I don’t think we could have achieved an awful lot more than we did in that first period," Smith said.
"The second period, as everyone might have expected, took on a slightly different complexion, and (Colorado) certainly got on top, looked a lot brighter, and of course, getting that goal gave them a little bit of life. We did a wonderful and professional job of keeping them at bay given the quality that they have and the ability they’ve shown in this stadium and at home."
The assist from Zimmerman came after he suffered a leg injury 90 seconds into the game after colliding in midair with Gyasi Zardes and landing awkwardly. Zimmerman stayed down for a few moments before making his way back up with a limp.
Zimmerman waved off help from the sideline and remained in the game.
Mukhtar didn’t start in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals game Wednesday at Louisville City FC but came in as a substitute and scored the winning goal in the 89th minute in a 2-1 victory.
Mukhtar has scored goals in his last six games.
After Nashville took the comfortable lead, Colorado's offense dominated possession but failed to make a serious threat until late. The Rapids got only one shot on goal through the first 75 minutes and four more in the final 15.
Nashville went 5-2-1 in the eight games it played over the 28-day stretch.
After playing so many games in a short stretch of time, Nashville welcomes two weeks off that will come with the international break.
Nashville will return to action with back-to-back games at Geodis Park.
It will play San Jose on June 11 and Kansas City on June 19. Both games begin at 5 p.m.
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWrtier.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: How Nashville SC ignited a rout of Colorado Rapids behind Hany Mukhtar