Tapias’ header sends Minnesota United to 2-1 victory over Colorado Rapids
Colorado Rapids finally scored its first goal this season, but Minnesota United finally won in suburban Denver with Saturday's 2-1 comeback victory.
Newly acquired defender Micky Tapias' flicked-on header off a 25-yard free kick in the 82nd minute proved the winner on a night when all three goals came after halftime.
Until then, the Loons had been 0-5-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Field – and that one draw came in their inaugural season's third game, in March 2017.
"It has been a long time coming," Loons coach Adrian Heath, who has been there for all of them, said in a postgame video call. "It has been a good couple weeks for us."
Including one bye week already, the Loons have started the season 2-0-1 playing a different style without suspended and absent star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso.
They've done so by winning 1-0 at FC Dallas in their season opener and with a 1-1 draw in the snow at Allianz Field last week in their home opener.
On Saturday, they won at altitude and in 43-degree chill against a Rapids team that had gone 0-5 and hadn't scored a goal in losses 4-0 to Seattle, 1-0 to San Jose and a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
"It has been a good start for us," Heath said. "To go to Dallas and come to Colorado, traditionally difficult places to come to, I'm delighted. We got six points from two away games."
Heath left usual starters Franco Fragapane, Wil Trapp and Zarek Valentin off Saturday's starting 11. That decision was intended to save them from risk of injury and protect them for next Saturday's home game against Vancouver, when seven teammates will gone for a home game against Vancouver because of duty with their national teams.
On Saturday, the Loons' two goals came on second-half substitute Luis Amarilla's 54th-minute penalty kick and Tapias' deflection of Fragapane's curving free kick into a crowd inside the 18-yard box.
With Reynoso missing, Fragapane has become the Loons' designated taker of set-piece kicks. He did so Saturday when subbed for Hassani Dotson coming out of halftime.
Fragapane struck the 25-yard free kick and Tapias found room in the crowd to elevate and flick the ball on just inside the right post.
Signed out of Mexico' Liga MX, Tapias first goal in his third MLS game stood at the winner.
"It's huge for us," said defender DJ Taylor, who made his season debut by starting at right back. "Obviously, we're missing Rey. The fact we can do this as a team no matter who steps on the field for any game has been huge for us from a mentality standpoint and building our camaraderie. Every game has been amazing."
The teams swapped goals within four minutes of each other early in the second half after a scoreless first half.
Colorado midfielder Cole Bassett scored his team's first goal in its fourth game this season.
The Loons allowed Bassett too much space and time on a ball played from right wing that went over everyone, until Bassett contained it on the far side of 18-yard box.
Bassett beat two defenders with an angled left-footed strike that eluded them and everyone else. That included Loons diving goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, who couldn't stop it from rolling just inside the far, right post.
It came in the 49th minute, just four minutes before before Amarilla converted a hand-ball penalty kick.
Amarilla's equalizer came in the 53rd minute after Colorado defender Danny Wilson extended his arm too far outside his body.
Amarilla stepped up after replacing starting striker Mender Garcia at halftime and scored when Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough guessed to his right and Amarilla struck a shot the other way.
The Rapids had three dangerous scoring chances shortly thereafter, including Wilson's header off a free kick that hit both St. Clair's hand and the crossbar.
Heath's lineup reconfiguring made Dotson a starter in the central midfield alongside Kervin Arriaga for the first time since an ACL torn last April ended his 2022 season.
It also moved Joseph Rosales into a starting spot in Fragapane's place, alongside versatile midfielder Robin Lod in the middle and Bongokuhle Hlongwane on the right wing. Taylor started at right back, where Valentin had started the season's first two weeks.
Lod moved into that No. 10 playmaking spot vacated by Reynoso.
Lod is headed for his Finland team as are Hondurans Arriaga and Rosales to theirs. Canada's St. Clair, South Africa's Hlongwane, New Zealand's Michael Boxall and Jamaica's Kemar Lawrence will also be away.
Those seven started Saturday. All those players are expected back for an April 1 game at St. Louis CITY.
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.