Robin Fraser has heaped praise on his Colorado Rapids players after they came from behind to beat Minnesota United 3-1 on Sunday, despite playing most of the second half with 10 men.
Heading into the match, the Rapids looked on the verge of spoiling a good season with their only win in six coming against bottom-of-the-West Austin FC.
And things seemed to get worse as Adrien Hounou put Minnesota 1-0 up inside eight minutes at Allianz Field, while Danny Wilson was given his marching orders just before the hour-mark.
But from there, the Rapids mounted an incredible comeback, with Cole Bassett equalising from the penalty spot on 73 minutes. Goals from Michael Barrios and Lucas Esteves then sealed an unlikely turnaround Fraser was bubbling with pride for his players after the match.
“Thoughts on tonight’s match are: what a team. What a fantastic team," he told reporters. "Down a goal, down a man. Such a character statement. It’s what I’ve enjoyed about this team since I got here, that they don’t quit, they don’t have quit in them.
"Not just down a goal, down a man—down a goal, down a man to a very, very good team and some really, really good players. Words can’t express how proud I am of this win and how proud I am of the team.”
Though the goalscorers will obviously take most of the glory, Fraser also paid tribute to the mammoth defensive effort which laid the foundations for Colorado's devastating counter-attacks.
“What it is, is obviously the urgency of the moment—where we are in the table, where we are in the time of year," he added. "You go down a man, it’s not even necessarily just going down a man, it’s knowing that we’re down a goal and we need to get points, and if you look at the response of the entire team, the entire group of guys did such a great job.
"Everyone will remember the goals and the fantastic things done by Jonny [Lewis], Michael [Barrios], Cole [Bassett]. Everyone will remember all that. What most people will forget is the very, very difficult work in the trenches in front of the goal between Will [Yarbrough], the defenders, everyone who was really dug in right in our box late in the game.
"When you think about both sides of it, you think about the group that really, really worked hard and defended, you think about the group that was really able to spark some of these really good counter-attacks. It just comes back to what I started with: what a team. What a team.”
Sunday's victory sees the Rapids open up a five-point gap between themselves and the Portland Timbers in fourth. Meanwhile, Fraser's team are just a point behind Sporting KC and six adrift of the Seattle Sounders in second and first, respectively.
Up next for Colorado is a trip to Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening.