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 Colorado Rapids

Colorado Rapids Face Inter Miami CF for the First Time in Club History

April 16, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Colorado Rapids News Release

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The Colorado Rapids (2-2-2, 8 pts) look to maintain their road form and stretch their unbeaten streak on the road to three matches, as they head to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to visit Inter Miami CF for the first time in club history. The match is set for Saturday, April 6, at Chase Stadium (5:30 p.m. MT; Apple TV - MLS Season Pass, Altitude Sports Radio 950AM).

The Rapids enter the match following a 3-2 comeback win against LAFC at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park last Saturday. After LAFC took an early lead with an eighth-minute goal by Eduard Atuesta, Moïse Bombito equalized for the Rapids before halftime for his first goal scored for the Rapids after being drafted in 2022. Despite LAFC regaining the lead in the second half, Djordje Mihailovic's brace ensured victory for the Rapids, also marking the midfielder's first points scored in burgundy. Mihailovic scored the first goal with a free kick in the 82nd minute, drilling the ball into the upper 90 past the wall and LAFC goalkeeper Hugo Lloris' outstretched hands. He then sealed the win with another goal in the 88th minute. Kimani Stewart-Baynes provided his first MLS assist in the game, a week after making his debut with the team.

Multiple milestones were achieved in the match: Homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett became the first in club history to surpass 7,000 minutes (7,005). Mihailovic was the first player since September 2020 to record two goals and an assist in a single game and the first to score his first two goals for the club in one match since 2014. Bombito scored his inaugural MLS goal from a Mihailovic corner kick. Homegrown defender Sam Vines surpassed Dillon Serna for the second-most starts (55) and exceeded 5,000 minutes in the MLS regular season, joining Serna and Bassett as the third Homegrown Player in club history to do so. Homegrown midfielder Oliver Larraz surpassed 500 MLS regular-season minutes.

Miami, currently second in the Eastern Conference, heads into the upcoming match after securing a 1-1 draw at home against New York City FC in their regular-season matchup on March 30th. Striker Luis Suárez netted Inter Miami's goal, assisted by midfielder Julian Gressel, marking Suárez's fifth goal of the regular season. This goal, the team's 14th of the season, along with the assist, their 21st of the season, leads MLS this season in both categories. NYCFC equalized with a goal from forward Alonso Martínez in the 34th minute.

In their latest outing, Miami suffered a 2-1 defeat against LIGA MX side C.F. Monterrey in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals. Miami took the lead with a goal from defender Tomás Avilés. However, Miami midfielder David Ruiz received a yellow card in the 61st minute and was subsequently sent off with a second yellow in the 65th minute, reducing Miami to 10 men. Monterrey capitalized on the numerical advantage, scoring the equalizer in the 70th minute before securing the game-winner in the 89th minute at Miami's home ground.

Inter Miami was founded on Jan. 29, 2018, six years ago. They have qualified for the playoffs twice, in 2020 and 2022, and are the defending Leagues Cup Champions, having defeated Nashville SC in penalties in the final. They are led by head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino, who won both the 2018 MLS Cup and the 2018 MLS Coach of the Year award with Atlanta United. Martino took over at Inter Miami on June 28, 2023 after coaching the Mexican National Team. Their roster is headlined by eight-time Ballon d'Or winner and 2022 World Cup winner forward Lionel Messi. Along with Messi, the roster includes former FC Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets and defender Jordi Alba. This offseason they added 2018 and 2023 MLS Cup winner Julian Gressel, defenders Marcelo Weigandt on loan from Boca Juniors, Nicolás Freire on loan from Pumas UNAM, Israel Boatwright, Tyler Hall, midfielders Yannick Bright, Federico Redondo, and forward Leo Afonso.

In Saturday's match, notable connections between the two teams emerge. Chris Henderson, Chief Soccer Officer of Inter Miami CF, holds a significant place in Rapids history. He leads the team with a club-record 53 assists and ranks third in appearances and starts, boasting 178 and 170, respectively. Henderson also sits sixth on the all-time scoring list with 31 goals and 10 game-winning assists, the second-most in club history. His 14,748 minutes of play time are the third-most in club history. Additionally, he earned the 1997 team MVP title after he was acquired by Colorado on March 11, 1996, as a discovery player. Rapids midfielder Connor Ronan and Miami forward Leonardo Campana were teammates at Wolves from 2020-23, although they were both out on loan and did not make an appearance alongside each other. Miami defender Ryan Sailor, originally from Centennial, Colorado, began his youth career with Real Colorado and attended Arapahoe High School before joining the Colorado Rapids U23 in 2017.

Connections extend internationally as well. Mihailovic and Gressel have shared the field on four occasions, representing the United States Men's National Team. They notably reached the semifinals of the 2023 Gold Cup, both converting their penalties in a 5-4 loss to Panama. At the youth level, Bassett and Miami midfielder Benjamin Cremaschi represented the U.S. U20's in a pair of friendlies in 2023.

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