Herculez Strikes Again but Fire Salvage Last-Minute Draw vs. Shorthanded Rapids

Commerce City Colo. (Sunday April 15 2007)- The Colorado Rapids fought to a 1-1 tie withthe Chicago Fire despite playing down a man for over 80 minutes tonight in front of 12110 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
(To watch video highlights from this match click here).

The Rapids went a man down in the sixth minute when Roberto Brown was shown a red card by referee Jair Marrufo.

Herculez Gomez had the Rapids' first shot on goal in the 35th minute but his strike from distance was easily controlled by Matt Pickens.

In the 52nd minute a Colorado free kick put Chicago under pressure. Terry Cooke played a short ball to Gomez whose cross was met at the far post by Mike Petke. Petke attempted to find Kyle Beckerman near the penalty spot but the Fire defense was able to clear the ball.

The 10-man Rapids squad took the lead in the 58th minute off the foot of Gomez. Colorado goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul found Niko Hernandez in the midfield who then played a through ball to Gomez. The Las Vegas native made no mistake as he ripped the ball into the net with the outside of his right foot for his second goal in as many games.

Chad Barrett equalized for Chicago in the 85th minute. He controlled a lofted ball from Chris Rolfe and with his second touch he put it in the net.

The Rapids will hit the road for the first time in 2007 next weekend as they take on FC Dallas on Sunday April 22 at PizzaHutPark. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. MT and will be broadcasted live by Altitude Sports and Entertainment.

Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Herculez Gomez

Postgame Quotes:

Rapids Head Coach Fernando Clavijo

On getting a tie while playing shorthanded:

"We always want more especially playing at home but it could have been much worse there is no question about that. I give credit to the whole team. Outstanding effort by everyone. With this field as big as it is when you play with only 10 men you notice it. But everyone really battled; everyone from Bouna (Coundoul) to Herculez Gomez had a tremendous game."

On the early red card and playing with 10 men:

"Like I told Roberto (Brown) we just have to be careful how we go to the ball. That is one of the biggest problems for foreign players coming to our league the games are refereed differently here than they are anywhere else. I haven’t seen (the call) so I can’t comment on that. But we played well for 85 minutes with outstanding attitude and discipline. Even with 10 players we tried to score and eventually we did."

Colorado Rapids Forward Herculez Gomez

On the team’s early red card and playing a man down:

"I haven’t seen the replay so I’m going to stick with my teammate. But its mental mistakes we can’t make especially playing at home. We are a good solid team. We stuck to our plan even after the red card playing tight and compact. We wanted to choose our moments maybe knick one and hold them and I think we did just that. It’s unfortunate that (Chicago) scored that goal but it’s soccer and I think it shows our character coming back and playing a man down again a team like Chicago."

On his goal:

"We said at halftime that we needed to be smart and pick our moments. Niko played a great ball. My strength is going towards goal and fortunately I got a look and saw the corner."

On his recent change from forward to midfield:

"I’m most comfortable facing the goal doesn’t mean I have to be a forward to face the goal. I found plenty of space last game when I was playing out wide and I'll continue to get forward when I can. Like Fernando said if I’m playing sweeper I’ll look for a way to score. Hopefully it doesn’t come down to that but I really just want to help the team."

Scoring Summary:
COL- Herculez (Niko Coundoul) 58

CHI- Barrett (Rolfe) 85

Lineups:

Colorado Rapids – Bouna Coundoul Brandon Prideaux Ugo Ihemelu Mike Petke Greg Vanney Terry Cooke (Dan Gargan 88) Kyle Beckerman Jovan Kirovski (Pablo Mastroeni 29) Herculez Gomez Roberto Brown Nicolas Hernandez
Substitutes Not Used: Zach Thornton Nico Colaluca Jacob Peterson Daniel Wasson Chris Wingert

Chicago Fire– Matt Pickens CJ Brown (Thiago 46) Jim Curtin (Calen Carr 79) Gonzalo Segares Logan Pause Diego Guitierrez (Pascal Bedrossian 70) Chris Armas Justin Mapp Ivan Guerrero Chad Barrett Chris Rolfe

Substitutes Not Used: Jon Busch Brian Plotkin Dasan Robinson Osei Telesford

Misconduct Summary:
COL- Brown (Ejection) 6

COL- Coundoul (Caution) 31

CHI- Barrett (Caution) 33

CHI- Guitierrez (Caution) 69

COL- Herculez (Caution) 89

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assts: Rob Fereday; Frank Anderson
4th Official: Ben Chouaf
Attendance: 12110