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COMMERCE CITY — The Colorado Rapids clinched a spot in the Audi MLS Cup playoffs for the second time in as many years with a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
Dominique Badji and Diego Rubio scored goals as the Rapids clinched with three regular season games left on the schedule.
“I was really proud of the approach that we had tonight,” head coach Robin Fraser said. “As we get closer to the playoffs, we’ve talked about the fact that concentration, discipline becomes more and more important as we finish the year and try to win something.”
The Rapids won in the style they know best, by outworking their opponent.
“We played hard the whole game,” Rubio said. “This is us. This is us and I’m very proud of this group, very proud of this team.”
Robin Fraser has been the head coach for two full seasons — inheriting a club that was near the bottom of the MLS — and has made the playoffs in both of his full seasons.
“That’s why we play it’s why we compete,” Fraser said. That’s why I’ve done this for as long as I have, is to try to win and try to get positions to win things.”
“What I’m really proud of is this group of players that is oftentimes disregarded, small team, low budget, all these things, and I’m really proud of how hard and how cohesively they’ve worked all year to get to this point. I’m really really happy for them, because we’re not here by luck, we’re here because they earned it.”
Rubio started the play on the first goal, finding Braian Galván down the flank who delivered the cross right on Badji’s head for the finish. It was Badji’s second goal in as many games and he has now scored in both of his two starts for the Rapids this season.
“Dom (Badji) certainly has been frustrated with not being able to play more,” Fraser said. “And we just have so many attacking players, it took some circumstances to really get him an opportunity. Talk about someone who’s taken his opportunity and run with it. He’s been fantastic for the last two games and has really shown that he is a really, really important part of this group going forward.”
In the 65th minute, the Rapids were at it again. Galván sent in another cross that took a deflection and found the head of Rubio for the goal.
It was Rubio’s first goal since Aug. 21. He has battled injuries over the last few months and has been in and out of the lineup.
“It’s not been the best year for me you know in terms of injuries,” Rubio said. “But I will say, I just want to play for this team because I love this group. And if I can help this group to win, I’m going to be very proud of myself and today I was able to score the second one.”
Galván has been a revelation at wing back for the Rapids this season. He picked up his second and third assist of the season for the Rapids as he’s begun to get more comfortable in his new role.
“As I always say, each player has to play in different positions in some games,” Galván said. “We have to get used to it because it’s just what the team needs.”
William Yarbrough picked up his 12th clean sheet of the season which is second in MLS behind Nashville SC and first in the Western Conference.
The Rapids now sit in a tie for second in the Western Conference, although Sporting Kansas City has played one less game. They were able to distance themselves from Portland as they have three games left in the season and have a chance to catch the Seattle Sounders, who sit three points ahead of them.