Atlanta United piles it, thrashes Rapids 4-0 with three late goals

Missing 10 men and on the road Wednesday night at Atlanta United, the Colorado Rapids were tactically set up to bunker in.

In the final 10 minutes of the game, the floodgates opened.

Colorado (2-5-6, 13 points) was peppered with shots across the 90 minutes Wednesday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. While the team only trailed 1-0 through 80 minutes, the legs gave out and three goals came in a 4-0 loss. Atlanta United outshot Colorado 27-6 and broke a four-game losing streak across all competitions. Meanwhile, Colorado has lost two straight.

“There’s disappointment that we gave up too many goals in the dying moments,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “It’s one thing to chase a game … and give up a goal (in an effort to get back into it). It’s another to chase a game and give up three goals — it’s not OK.”

In the first half, Colorado was under pressure almost immediately from the opening whistle. The Rapids had two chances, one which came early as Michael Barrios was in on goal but lost the ball. Later on, Connor Ronan tried a shot from long-range that did not threaten. Otherwise, it was all Atlanta.

The home side had an early chance after Thiago Almeda had a penalty kick-opportunity but leaned back and his shot went high. He would not be denied, however.

The Argentinian World Cup winner seems to be destined to play in Europe sooner rather than later and a candidate for goal of the matchweek was an example of why. In the 29th minute, no matter how much William Yarbrough tried to set up a four-man wall with two men behind, Almeda’s stunning free kick went over the wall and left Yarbrough rooted to his spot for a goal.

After a delayed start to the second half as Colorado took awhile to get out of the locker room following a lengthy halftime talk, the Rapids were able to create chances. Ronan tried a pair of long-range efforts, one of which was tipped out for a corner. Atlanta United’s goalkeeper Quentin Westberg made a diving stop on the other.

“The first 30 minutes of the second half were pretty good,” midfielder Ralph Priso said. “… Obviously we’ll want to a look at (tonight) but it’s also one where you wanna forget it and move on to the next one.”

The best chance of the night game came from Danny Leyva, who’s long-range curling effort nearly beat Westberg in the 67th minute.

In the final 10 minutes, Atlanta scored three times, all of which came on counterattacks when Colorado’s legs gave out. Luiz Araújo (80th minute), Tyler Wolff (87th) and Georgios Giakoumakis (90th) all scored.

Colorado will look to get men back healthy as the team will host Real Salt Lake (3-6-2, 11 points) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at DSGP in the Rocky Mountain Cup.

“We need to do everything we can to get ourselves physically ready,” Fraser said. “There’s no time to hang our heads and wallow in it. We have another game in three days, and it’s a derby game, which is huge. In these moments it takes a lot of intestinal fortitude, meaning we have to be able to dig because this is a big game for us this weekend.”

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