Rapids Advance to Conference Championship With Penalty Kick Win Over FC Dallas

FRISCO TX (Saturday October 29 2005)- The Colorado Rapids advanced to host the Western Conference Championship match tonight with a thrilling 5-4 win on penalty kicks after coming from behind and tying FC Dallas 2-2 on aggregate goals in overtime of Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

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

The Rapids created two early opportunities in the second and sixth minutes of the game thanks to the quick movements of Alain Nkong. The Cameroonian international broke free on two occasions: one in the second minute when he saw his shot stopped by Scott Garlick and one in the sixth minute when his shot was blocked by a diving defender.

The first goal of the night came in the 19th minute when Jeff Cunningham netted his first playoff goal for the Black and Blue. The play started once again with a quick turn by Nkong who fed a through ball to Terry Cooke on the right side of the field. Cooke crossed an outswinging ball into the heart of FC Dallas’ penalty area where he found Cunningam without a mark. The Rapids' 2005 Golden Boot winner took advantage of Scott Garlick’s decision to stay on his line and beat him with a perfect header from four yards out.

The Rapids went a man down in the 55th minute when referee Terry Vaughn showed a direct red card to Nkong on a questionable call. Nkong who had been the most active player on the Black and Blue side as yet through the game was judged to have elbowed Dallas player Simo Valakari in the face on purpose despite replays that showed Valakari jumping from behind into Nkong's elbow on the play in question.

FC Dallas then became more dangerous with the one man advantage directing balls into the Rapids penalty area from both flanks.

Carlos Ruiz netted the equalizer for Dallas in the 66th minute when he received a ball inside of the Rapids penalty area before turning and unleashing a powerful shot that beat goalkeeper Joe Cannon to his right post.

Chris Gbandi’s diving header in the 78th minute put the crowd on their feet but his shot was denied by Cannon right on the goalline.

Cannon came up big for the Rapids once again in the 84th minute when he robbed Ruiz in a one-on-one situation with a spectacular diving save pulling the ball off Ruiz's boot to keep the score knotted at 1-1 and send the game into two 15 minute overtime halves.

Cannon kept the Rapids in the game with two more spectacular saves on Ramon Nunez on the 101st and 102nd minutes. Both shots were directed at the upper left corner of Cannon’s goal but on both occassions the Rapids' 2005 M.V.P. came up with pitcture-perfect diving saves.

The second tally of the night for the home team came in the 105th minute when Ruiz netted a 2-1 lead knocking home an FC Dallas pass that found its way into the back of Cannon's net.

However the celebrations of the FC Dallas fans were extremely short-lived as the Rapids responded only 30 seconds later. Substitute defender Ritchie Kotschau was the man in the right spot when he found a rebound inside of Dallas’ penalty area which he pounced on with a diving slide to kick the ball past a diving Scott Garlick to even the scoreline at 2-2.

A penalty kick was awarded to the home team in the 112th minute on another questionable call by referee Terry Vaughn as Kyle Beckerman was whistled for bringing down Chris Gbandi in the box. Ruiz stepped up to take the penalty but directed his shot into the right post of Cannon’s goal and it bounced out of danger.

Cannon again came up big for the Rapids in the dying moments of the match when he saved a well-placed shot to his upper right corner. The subsequent rebound again demanded the catlike reflexes of the Rapids goalkeeper as he saved the close-range shot sending the game to penalty kicks to determine the winner.

After 4 players from each team had taken and converted their respective penalty shots Cannon came up big again in the Penalty Kick segment of the match making the only save of the PK's as he smothered the chance by Roberto Mina. This allowed Jean Philippe Peguero to put the nail in FC Dallas' coffin as the Haitian international stepped up and calmly buried his shot into the back of Garlick's goal to send Colorado through to the next round and FC Dallas home to start preparations for the 2006 preseason.

With the resulting win the Rapids will host the Los Angeles Galaxy this Saturday November 5th at 7:00 p.m. (MT) at INVESCO Field at Mile High in the Western Conference Championship match. The Galaxy beat San Jose with an aggregate goals score of 4-2 to advance to the Conference Final.

Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas
Western Conference Semifinal Game 2
Sat. Oct. 29 at Pizza Hut Park

Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Joe Cannon

Scoring Summary:
COL -- Jeff Cunningham 1 (Terry Cooke 1 Alain Nkong 1) 19
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 1 (Roberto Mina 1 Bobby Rhine 1) 67
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz 2 (Chris Gbandi 1 Greg Vanney 1) 105
COL -- Ritchie Kotschau 1 (Terry Cooke 2) 106

Penalty kick shootout:
DAL -- Carlos Ruiz (Goal)
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (Goal)
DAL -- Ramon Nunez (Goal)
COL -- Jovan Kirovski (Goal)
DAL -- Oscar Pareja (Goal)
COL -- Jeff Cunningham (Goal)
DAL -- Greg Vanney (Goal)
COL -- Terry Cooke (Goal)
DAL -- Roberto Mina (Saved)
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero (Goal)

LINEUPS:

Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon Leo Cullen (Jean Philippe Peguero 11) Mike Petke Eric Denton Terry Cooke Kyle Beckerman Pablo Mastroeni Alain Nkong Dedi Ben-Dayan (Ritchie Kotschau 79) Jeff Cunningham Jovan Kirovski.
Substitutes Not Used: Byron Foss Dan Gargan Fabrice Noel

FC Dallas -- Scott Garlick Bobby Rhine (Oscar Pareja 100) Clarence Goodson Steve Jolley Greg Vanney Chris Gbandi Ronnie O'Brien Simo Valakari Mark Wilson (Roberto Mina 46) Ramon Nunez Carlos Ruiz.
Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez Drew Moor Aaron Pitchkolan Dario Sala Carey Talley Abe Thompson David Wagenfuhr

Misconduct Summary:
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Pushing Holding) 48
COL -- Alain Nkong (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 54
DAL -- Bobby Rhine (caution; Game Disrepute) 57
DAL -- Simo Valakari (caution; Pushing Holding) 63
COL -- Eric Denton (caution; Reckless Foul) 68
COL -- Joe Cannon (caution; Delaying a Restart) 91+
DAL -- Chris Gbandi (caution; Reckless Foul) 92+
COL -- Jovan Kirovski (caution; Reckless Foul) 92

Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Steven Taylor
4th official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of game: 2:42
Attendance: 10104
Weather: Clear -and- 67 degrees