Rafael Navarro’s brace propels Colorado Rapids to 3-0 triumph over Earthquakes

Colorado Rapids managed their second road win of the 2024 Major League Soccer season with a 3-0 triumph over San Jose Earthquakes thanks in part to a brace from striker Rafael Navarro.

It’s been refreshing start in the new season under first-year boss Chris Armas for the new-look Rapids, with their most recent victory propelling them up to fifth in the Western Conference standings (they finished second-to-last in the 2023 Supporters’ Shield race).

Colorado have suffered defeat just twice in their eight games played this term — a 4-1 thrashing on opening day to Portland Timbers and a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Houston Dynamo. The humbling loss against Portland is starting to look more and more like an outlier, with the Rapids now on a three-game unbeaten streak and three points ahead of the Timbers in the West.

Since their opening day catastrophe at Providence Park, Colorado have now gone on a tear when playing away from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Armas’s squad managed 2-1 victory at Real Salt Lake, a 1-1 draw against Seattle Sounders at Lumen Field, a 2-2 draw against Inter Miami at Chase Stadium in Lionel Messi’s return from injury, and most recently a 3-0 victory over San Jose at PayPal Park.

Navarro was involved in all three goals for his side, converting a penalty attempt in the 10th minute to open the scoring and finding the back of the net again in the 60th minute. While 2-0 is widely considered the most dangerous scoreline in soccer, the Rapids later put the game to bed in the 80th minute as Navarro grabbed the assist for Cole Bassett’s low-driven strike.

Speaking to the media after the victory, Armas was proud of his team has performed since their first defeat of the season on February 24 and how they’ve evolved during this four-game unbeaten run away from home.

“Well, obviously any time you win games, it’s a good thing,” Armas said. “Winning on the road is never easy — you referenced the Portland game and what we learned and how we grew from that very first defeat on the road. The boys said never again, so I think we come with real focus on the road and an understanding of we have to suffer together.

“I think tonight was a real team performance and a really mature performance from a relatively young group. A lot of shots it felt like, but we stuck together in the key moments, we defended the box well. It’s great to get goals, it’s great to see three goals on the night. It’s nice to see Rafa Navarro get two more, I think that’s four on the year for him. It’s good for any striker — the confidence to see Cole Bassett get another one for him is a good one,”

As Armas noted, Navarro is now up for four goals and five assists in league action in which he leads his team in both categories. Armas explained that Navarro has performed well in training and that it was only a matter of time before the 24-year-old started to bang in the goals during games.

“We’ve said it all along, he can score goals. We know this, because we see it every single day in training. And we think if we can get him in better spots that he can score, and if we can give him more surface that he can score goals, he works hard off the ball defensively, he really runs for the team. But he’s a striker. So, the fact that now he’s got a couple on the night and a bunch now accumulating for the season, I think it will only help him. It’s just a big positive when you’re when your striker can get a few goals — it’s what they love most. So, I’m really happy for him,” he said.


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