COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — James Olayinka had a goal and an assist to lead Arsenal past Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids 3-0 in a friendly on Monday night.
Olayinka’s sizzling right-footed strike in the 29th minute came from just outside the box as he scored into the upper-right corner of the net to give the Premier League team a 2-0 lead.
Olayinka assisted on Arsenal’s opening score. He pushed the ball into the box where Bukayo Saka found it and lifted it into the net in the 13th minute. The third score came just after halftime from Gabriel Martinelli in the 61st minute. It was Martinelli’s debut after joining Arsenal from Ituano earlier in the month.
This was the first preseason match for Arsenal ahead of the 2019-20 season as they embark on a three-game tour. Monday’s match was the only one against an MLS club. Up next, Arsenal head to Los Angeles to face Bayern Munich on Wednesday in an International Champions Cup match.
In front of a near sell-out — many of them cheering the visitors — Arsenal controlled the match.
Olayinka’s goal was a huge sign for the club. The 18-year-old developed through Arsenal’s academy and signed with the first team in January. He has yet to play in the Premier League. He represents a big hope as Arsenal finished fifth last season.
Arsenal stars Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang entered the game in the 78th minute. Each got rousing ovations and drew reactions from the crowd in the final 10 minutes when generating opportunities.
The Rapids only played six regulars the entire 90 minutes as they played an MLS match on Saturday.
The Rapids’ 17-year-old midfielder Cole Bassett grew up an Arsenal fan. The Littleton native played the first 45 minutes and had one scoring chance. His time was limited because of how much recent time he has had in league play.
United States Women’s National Team players Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh were in attendance. The two soccer stars and world champions are Colorado natives. They were honored at halftime in front of the crowd as Colorado’s governor Jared Polis declared July 15th U.S. Women’s National Team Day in the state.