A Great Hollywood Ending: Nine-Man Rapids Take 1-0 Win vs. LA

DENVER CO (Colorado Rapids Media Relations)- Riding the superhuman efforts of Joe Cannon a nine-man Colorado Rapids team delivered a strong message to the Western Conference with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night to take three points from the Los Angeles Galaxy in front of 10472 exuberent fans at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

(To view video highlights from this match CLICK HERE).

Jeff Cunningham ended the Rapids' 320-minute scoreless streak in the ninth minute when he stepped up to the penalty spot and drilled the ball past Kevin Hartman. The Jamacian-born Cunningham had drawn the foul as he was pushed over in the box by LA’s Cobi Jones. Cunningham expertly took the PK and blasted it past a helpless Hartman for his team-leading 5th goal on the season.

Just three minutes later Jean-Philippe Peguero was fouled by Pablo Chinchilla who received a yellow card for the harsh tackle.

Rapids midfielder Leo Cullen made the referee pull out the yellow card for the second time in two minutes with his foul a few plays later.

In the 17th minute the Rapids were reduced to 10 men after Pablo Mastroeni was shown a straight red card by referee Ricardo Valenzuela for leaving his feet up as he slid in on Paulo Nagamura as the ball got a bit in front of him when he was dribbling upfield. Video replays appeared to show that Mastroeni had only made contact with the ball on his forward run but the referee's decision stood.

After Nat Borchers saved a sure goal off the feet of Jovan Kirovski by sliding the ball up the field Luchi Gonzalez hit a screamer over the Galaxy's net from inside the penalty box.

Peguero came close to adding a second goal for the already- shorthanded home team in the 28th minute when he headed a Gonzalez free kick just past Hartman’s far post.

The card-happy Valenzuela again went to his pocket to show the Galaxy’s Tyrone Marshall a yellow card in the 32nd minute.

Joe Cannon who made several world-class saves on the night had to come up big for the Rapids just after the half hour mark as Kirovski took a shot from 30 yards away. Cannon dove to his right and gave up no rebound on the rocket of a shot. In the next two minutes Cannon also stopped a cross and a Jones shot from outside the box in spectacular fashion.

Colorado took their first corner kick of the game in the 43rd minute and Peguero shook his defender and got his head to the ball only to blast it just inches wide of the Galaxy goal.

The Rapids were forced to give up a corner kick in first half stoppage time after a long throw but Landon Donovan’s cross sailed through the box untouched and the Rapids took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.

The Rapids came out for the second 45 with the same ten men on the pitch; the Galaxy brought Michael Umana in for Ugo Ihemelu at the halfway point.

Eric Denton squashed the Galaxy’s next scoring chance in the 55th minute and cleared the ball out of danger after Ednaldo da Conceicao made a threatening low cross.

Guy Melamed was the second Black & Blue player to be shown a questionable straight red card during the evening after he came in strong for a header but slipped directly in front of the referee. His sliding body ran into the back of Nagamura (who had also drawn the red card on Mastroeni) and despite being right on top of the play the referee again showed a red card to a Rapids player on the night.

In the 63rd minute Colorado made their first substitution bringing on Kyle Beckerman for the goal-scorer Cunningham and a minute later the Galaxy swapped Pablo Chinchilla for Herculez Gomez.

After absorbing three minutes of pressure starting in the 67th minute the Rapids made their second exchange as Alain Nkong came on for Luchi Gonzalez.

After a Galaxy corner kick Cannon stoned Umana on an absolute rocket and moments later Gomez sent a header over the crossbar.

The Galaxy completed their final substitution in the 73 minute when Mubarike Chisoni replaced da Conceicao.

Rapids fans were excited to see Georgetown alum Dan Gargan make his Colorado Rapids and Major League Soccer debut in the 76th minute when he subbed in for Peguero.

The Rapids were saved by the woodwork in the 78th minute when Jones unleashed a low shot off a corner kick that had Cannon beat but the ball bounced off Cannon's left post and back into the fray.

The Galaxy grew increasingly frustrated and sloppy as time and again their forays forward into the Rapids' part of the field were effectively dismantled by the stellar Rapids defense.

Cannon and his defenders made six saves in less than a minute to keep the Galaxy off the board in a flurry of action in the 85th minute in a series of fantastic defensive plays sure to make all the highlight reels this season.

The Colorado netminder was given a yellow card for delaying the game in second half stoppage time but Cannon shook it off to make two fantastic saves before the final whistle (with one of the saves stopping a sure own-goal by Mike Petke) showing why he is the best goalkeeper in Major League Soccer.

At the final whistle Cannon then tossed his jersey to the crowd and jumped over the fence to celebrate in the stands with the Rapids' "Ultra Azul" supporters club.

The Rapids will next travel to California this weekend where they will visit Western Conference rivals Chivas USA on Saturday June 18th at 8:00 p.m. (MT) live on Altitude Sports & Entertainment.

Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Nat Borchers

Lineups:

COL- Joe Cannon Ricky Lewis Nat Borchers Mike Petke Eric Denton Leo Cullen Pablo Mastroeni Guy Melamed Luchi Gonzalez (Alain Nkong 70) Jeff Cunningham (Kyle Beckerman 63) Pedro Peguero (Dan Gargan 76)
Subs Not Used: Bryon Foss Wolde Harris Ritchie Kotschau Amir Lowery Sasha Gotsmanov Joshua Elbaum.

LAG- Kevin Hartman Ugo Ihemelu (Michael Umana 46) Tyrone Marshall Todd Dunivant Naldo da Conceicao (Mubarike Chisoni 73) Paulo Nagamura Peter Vagenas Cobi Jones Pablo Chinchilla(Herculez Gomez 64) Landon Donovan Jovan Kirovski
Subs Not Used: Steve Cronin Mike Enfield

Scoring:
COL- Cunningham (penalty kick 9)
LAG- None

Misconduct Summary:
LA -- Todd Dunivant (caution; Reckless Foul) 13
COL -- Leo Cullen (caution; Reckless Foul) 17
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 18
LA -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Professional Foul) 31
COL -- Guy Melamed (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 60
LA -- Michael Umana (caution; Professional Foul) 80
COL -- Joe Cannon (caution; Delaying a Restart) 92+

Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: Chris Strickland; C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Ben Chouaf
Attendance: 10425
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-75-degrees