Ending on a satisfactory note to an otherwise unsatisfactory season matters.
Even to Diego Rubio and the Colorado Rapids.
Trailing 1-0 on the road against playoff-bound Austin FC on Sunday, the Rapids’ season was set to end on a bummer. Until the third minute of stoppage time, when forward Diego Rubio headed home a looping headed pass from teammate Lalas Abubakar to find the back of the net. The goal was the final kick of the game and it finished 1-1.
With the goal, Rubio tied the single-season club record for goals with 16. He matched former Rapids star and head coach Conor Casey with the feat, which was set back in 2009.
“I always say that I just think about the team, about winning and saying that I scored this goal and it ties the legend Conor Casey, it’s great to be with that guy,” Rubio said. “He was almost like a friend to us while he was coaching. It’s great to be at his level and we just need to be champions (to match) him and his level. I hope that can be next year.”
The game was tied for 80-plus minutes until MVP-candidate Sebastián Driussi buried a penalty kick after midfielder Bryan Acosta drew the penalty after he ran into Felipe Martins in the box after a turnover. It was Driussi’s 22nd goal of the season.
Colorado created a few solid chances throughout the game, including through Darren Yapi, as the 18-year-old forward from Green Valley Ranch got his first career start and played 70 minutes.
Rubio’s late equalizer showed to Rapids head coach Robin Fraser that the team was better than where they ultimately finished, 10th in the West on 43 points, which came on the heels of a historic 2021 season. While injuries, poor road form and inconsistent performances cost the team a shot at the playoffs by four points, Fraser still expected the team to fight for one another in the season send-off.
“To give up a goal, not quit and come back the way that we did to keep fighting, that was a pretty satisfying feeling,” Fraser said. “Obviously we feel like we’re better than where we are in the standings, and, it is what it is, but we wanted to finish with a proper performance and I thought tonight was exactly that.”
After a wild Decision Day around Major League Soccer, the playoff bracket is set, and the first-round matchups will begin Oct. 15.
As for the Rapids, an off-season awaits filled with exit interviews, key contract decisions to be made for next season. A few new pieces will likely be a big factor, as will staying injury-free in an effort to get back to the heights of the previous two seasons.