COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) — With Conor Casey nursing an injury and Omar Cummings off serving with the Jamaica national team, the struggling Colorado Rapids needed some offense. Andre Akpan and Tony Cascio, two of their younger players, provided all they needed.
"Conor's knees were bothering him and it was Andre's time," Colorado coach Oscar Pareja said. "We got what we needed from the young guys, Andre and Tony."
Akpan scored in the sixth minute and the Rapids escaped the Western Conference basement with a 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.
"At this level, all you can ask for is opportunity," said Akpan, who had played only 164 minute before Wednesday. "Tonight I made the most of my opportunity."
Cascio and Jaime Castrillon each added a goal for Colorado (9-17-2), which ended a four-game winless streak. The win leapfrogged Colorado past the Timbers and Chivas USA into seventh place in the West.
Pareja knows too well Colorado's playoff chances are holding on by a thread. They are eight points behind Vancouver for the final spot with six games left.
"We have a lot to do," Pareja said. "But tonight we finally found the net."
Akpan scored his first goal of the season in his second start after Cascio was stripped of the ball in the scoring zone. The ball deflected to Akpan, who fired a shot past Donovan Ricketts.
"The ball found a way to me," Akpan said. "And I reacted."
Goalkeeper Matt Pickens made one save in earning his seventh shutout, adding to his all-time franchise lead in shutouts (29) and wins (41).