Rapids Defeat Fire 1-0 in Mississippi

RIDGELAND MS. (Saturday March 22 2008) – The Colorado Rapids won their final preseason game 1-0 today when they used a Stephen Keel header to defeat the Chicago Fire 1-0 in front of 4110 fans.

(To view an exclusive photo gallery from this match click here).

Ciaran O’Brien forced the first save out of Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch in the second minute. The rookie beat his defender and drove into the penalty area but his attempt to beat Busch to the near post was caught.

Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. nearly scored in the fifth minute when his 25-yard attempt was punched over the goal by Busch as the shot was too hot to handle.

In the 13th minute Christian Gomez curled a free kick to the far post and was only denied when the shot bounced off the top of the crossbar.

The Rapids had another scoring chance in the 17th minute when Burciaga stepped up to intercept an entry pass. The Dallas native then fed a pass to Omar Cummings but the Jamaican’s shot was put out for a corner kick by Busch.

Burciaga had another shot on goal in the 30th minute. He took an errant Cuauhtemoc Blanco back heel and blasted another shot that Busch had to tip over the bar.

The Rapids hit the woodwork again in the 35th minute. Terry Cooke swung in a ball from the right side that Cummings met after a bounce but his rising header bounced off the crossbar.

Bouna Coundoul had to make his first save for Colorado in the 44th minute when he pushed a Chris Rolfe shot out for a corner kick.

In the 60th minute Coundoul had to come out of his goal to smother a through ball played into his penalty area.

O’Brien had the first scoring chance for the Rapids in the second half when he volleyed a bouncing ball just over the crossbar.

Colorado kept the pressure on Chicago in the 72nd minute as Herculez Gomez flicked a free kick from O’Brien just wide across the goal.

Both teams had chances two minutes later. O’Brien took a pass from Herculez but his shot went right at Busch. On the other end of the pitch Coundoul made an excellent reaction stop on Andy Herron and Stephen Keel cleared the danger.

Herculez again saw one of his shots go wide in the 82nd minute and it looked like the game would end in a scoreless draw.

However four minutes later the Rapids scored the game’s only goal. Burciaga took a free kick from the left side and Keel rose above everyone else to head the ball powerfully into the net.

The Rapids will now return to Colorado to prepare for their season opener at Dick’s SportingGoodsPark against the Los Angeles Galaxy this coming Saturday March 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Scoring Summary:
COL – Keel (Burciaga) 86

Lineups:

Colorado Rapids –Bouna Coundoul Kosuke Kimura (Dan Gargan 70) Facundo Erpen Stephen Keel Jose Luis Burciaga Jr. Terry Cooke John DiRaimondo Christian Gomez (Herculez Gomez 62) Nick LaBrocca (Pablo Mastroeni 81) Ciaran O’Brien Omar Cummings

Chicago Fire – Jon Busch Brandon Prideaux (Austin Washington 76) C.J. Brown (Diego Gutierrez 37) Bakary Soumare Gonzalo Segares Logan Pause Chris Rolfe (John Thorrington 66) Justin Mapp Cuauhtemoc Blanco Tomasz Frankowski (Kai Kasiguran 66) Calen Carr (Stephen King 81)

Misconduct Summary:
CHI – Blanco (Caution) 52
COL – Erpen (Caution) 81
CHI – Soumare (Caution) 85

Referee: Lee Suckle
Referees Assts.: Peter Balciunas Jim Conlee
Fourth Official: Tai Huynh
Attendance: 4110