Dominique Badji scored against his former team for his first goal for FC Cincinnati, who held on for a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in Commerce, Colo., on Saturday night.
Badji’s goal helped Cincinnati (10-1-3, 33 points) extend its winning streak to four matches and its lead atop the Eastern Conference standings to eight points in front of Nashville SC, which plays Sunday.
Badji, who joined Cincinnati as a depth piece last season, had 29 MLS goals across portions of five different seasons for Colorado, most recently in 2021.
Roman Celentano made three saves to preserve his and Cincinnati’s seventh shutout of the season. That’s one more than all of last season, the first season the 2019 expansion side reached the MLS postseason.
Colorado (2-7-6, 12 points) lost its fourth straight match.
The Rapids looked to have recovered from a rough start after Cincinnati dominated the opening 15 minutes or so, only to fall behind because of Badji’s goal in the 33rd minute after a devastating counterattack.
Alvaro Barreal began the move with an outlet feed to Obinna Nwobodo, who had to win a 50-50 challenge against a Colorado defender before moving the ball up the left flank.
Once he did, he found space and was able to go some distance into the Rapids’ half before sliding the ball left to Badji.
As the Rapids anticipated a cross into the center of the penalty area where striker Brandon Vazquez was lurking, Badji hammered a low shot that appeared to surprise goalkeeper William Yarbrough, rooting him to the ground as it rolled past him.
With Cincinnati playing at altitude for the first time this season, the Rapids perhaps expectedly looked stronger as the game progressed.
But Celentano — and on one occasion his goalpost — proved equal to each Colorado attempt on target.
His best save might have been his sprawling dive to his right to deny defender Moise Bombito’s effort in the 70th minute. He also made a similar stop of Keegan Rosenberry’s effort from farther out in the 82nd.
–Field Level Media