Rapids Earn 1-1 Tie Against Defending MLS Champion Crew

COLUMBUS OH (Saturday April 11 2009) – The Colorado Rapids earned a big point away from home while keeping the defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew still winless on the season Saturday night with a 1-1 draw at Crew Stadium.
(Click here to watch video highlights from the match).
Conor Casey found the back of the net for the visiting Rapids in the 82nd minute to even the score as Colorado registered their third consecutive match in which they have earned points. The goal for the current MLS Player of the Week was his fourth in Colorado’s last two matches.
Columbus looked sharp right from the opening kickoff and contained most the possession throughout the first half. The Crew would outshoot Colorado seven to three during the first 45 minutes of play including a six-to-zero advantage in corner kicks.
The Rapids’ defense held their ground despite an injury substitution in the 18th minute after starter Ty Harden injured his right hamstring and Scott Palguta was inserted into the contest. Tonight was Harden's first start of the season while Palguta was seeing his first career MLS regular season action.
Reigning MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto who earlier in the match hit the crossbar on a free kick scored the match’s opening goal in the 41st minute putting Columbus up 1-0. Crew defender Gino Padula played the ball into the box for Emmanuel Ekpo on the left side. Ekpo then found Schelotto near the penalty spot and the Crew captain punched in the goal to the lower right corner.
The Rapids applied a lot more offensive pressure in the second half before eventually finding their answer in the 82nd minute. Pablo Mastroeni chipped a ball over the Columbus defense into space ahead of Casey. Casey was able to fight through a slide tackle from Danny O’Rourke creating a one-a-one with goalkeeper William Hesmer. With a beautiful step over move Casey kept his composure and knocked in the equalizer.
Columbus tried their best to find a game-winner during the four minutes of injury time as Steven Lenhart had two near misses on target that had everyone in attendance on their feet and holding their breath but it was all to no avail and the match ended 1-1.
Colorado conclude their three-game road swing with a trip to Houston next Sunday to face the Dynamo on April 19 at 1:00pm MT at Robertson Stadium.
AT&T Rapids Man of the Match: Conor Casey
Scoring Summary:
CLB- Schelotto (Ekpo Padula) 41
COL- Casey (Mastroeni) 82
Lineups:
Colorado Rapids: Preston Burpo Ty Harden (Scott Palguta 18) Cory Gibbs Ugo Ihemelu Jordan Harvey Nick LaBrocca (Jacob Peterson 76) Mehdi Ballouchy Pablo Mastroeni Colin Clark Conor Casey (Greg Dalby 86) Omar Cummings.
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Holody Kosuke Kimura Matt Pickens Ross Schunk
Columbus Crew: William Hesmer Jed Zayner (Steven Lenhart 87) Eric Brunner Danny O'Rourke Gino Padula Eddie Gaven Brian Carroll Emmanuel Ekpo Adam Moffat (Duncan Oughton 67) Guillermo Barros Schelotto Alejandro Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Burns Alex Grendi Andy Gruenebaum Pat Noonan Stanley Nyazamba
Misconduct Summary:
COL- Gibbs (caution; Tactical Foul) 26
CLB- Ekpo (caution; Reckless Foul) 29
COL- Palguta (caution; Reckless Foul) 68
COL- Burpo (caution; Delaying a Restart) 94+
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Rob Fereday
Fourth official: Alex Prus
Attendance: 7465