Kevin Doyle was the hero for the Colorado Rapids in Saturday night’s clash at the Seattle Sounders, as the visitors rode his late strike to an upset 1-0 win over their Western Conference rivals.
With the game heading for a scoreless draw after a lethargic start to the second-half, the 31-year-old Irishman popped up in the 84th-minute to hand his side the victory, latching onto a long ball from defender Jared Watts, before shaking off two Seattle defenders and firing inside the far post to silence the home crowd.
It was the former Reading and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker’s second game-clinching goal in three matches, having also netted the decider in the recent 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, and head coach Pablo Mastroeni was full of praise for his performance at the final whistle.
Speaking to the Seattle Times, the Rapids boss said: “Yeah, I think once Kevin acclimated to the altitude he’s been fantastic for us, with his ability to hold up balls and bring his teammates into the game, get into the box, and score goals.
“I think these first two goals for him are a big weight off his shoulders personally. But for us as a team, it’s been tremendous, and it’s been what we’ve been lacking. So Kevin’s been fighting hard to get in good physical condition. Even in the last couple of games he’s showed some great form and I’m just really excited for how he progresses going forward.”
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The Rapids have endured a testing 2015 campaign so far, having taken just 24 points from their 20 games and recorded a league-worst 18 goals – an issue which sees them sitting bottom of the Western Conference.
As their star Designated Player, Doyle, who arrived from Wolves on a free transfer in May, has been tasked with solving those attacking problems but the experienced front man struggled through a slow start to his stateside career, going scoreless in his first seven appearances.
However, after adjusting to the travel and Denver altitude, the Republic of Ireland international has now helped his side record their first three-game winning streak since 2011 with his first two MLS goals, while showing clear glimpses of the finishing instincts that saw him achieve a 13-goal Premier League campaign with Reading in 2006-07.
His past top-flight form has not been seen much of late, having become a peripheral figure at Molineux in recent seasons, but, with a record of 92 goals in 357 appearances in England, Rapids fans will be hoping that last night’s strike was a sign of things to come.