Rapids Miss Out on Playoffs for First Time in Six Years

COMMERCE CITY CO (Saturday October 20 2007) –RealSaltLake proved to be too much for the Rapids on Saturday night as the Rapids' archrivals ended Colorado's season with a late minute strike.
(To view video highlights from this match click here).
Robbie Findley scored the lone goal as the Colorado Rapids were defeated 1-0. The loss eliminated the Rapids from playoff contention and gave the Rocky Mountain Cup to RealSaltLake for the first time in the competition's history.
The Rapids had only missed out on making the playoffs on 2 previous occassions in the club's 12-year history: in the MLS inaugural season of 1996 and under the reins of Tim Hankinson in 2001.

Colin Clark had the first clear scoring chance of the night in the 32nd minute. Jovan Kirovski played a beautiful pass to put Clark behind the defense. Clark used an excellent first touch to beat ‘keeper Nick Rimando but his right-footed shot on an empty net hit the post and went out for a goal kick.

Bouna Coundoul was called into action to keep the game level in the 37th minute. Fabian Espindola was on a breakaway and was one-on-one with Coundoul but the Senegalese 'keeper raced out and smothered the ball before Espindola could shoot.

Conor Casey had the next scoring opportunity in the 38th minute. After receiving a pass from Jacob Peterson the Denver South HS product saw his first shot of the game hit the side netting.

The Rapids were forced to burn two substitutions in the first half when Terry Cooke (left knee) and Ugo Ihemelu (eye injury) had to leave with injuries.

Former Rapids player Ritchie Kotschau broke up a Colorado scoring opportunity in the 50th minute. Clark sped down the left wing and put a tantalizing cross into the box but Kotschau got a touch on the ball right before Kirovski could redirect it into the net.

In the 54th minute former U.S. national team stalwart Eddie Pope left the field in his final professional game as he has announced plans to retire after the season.

A diving save from Rimando kept the game even in the 62nd minute. Peterson forced the save on an excellent shot from the right side.

The Rapids' playoff hopes took a serious blow in the 87th minute with a strike from RSL. The goal started with a long ball from Carey Talley that caught the wind and was carried over and behind the Rapids defense. Robbie Findley ran it down and neatly slid the ball past Coundoul to break the deadlock.

The Rapids nearly equalized in the 88th minute when the rebound from an Omar Cummings shot fell to Tony Sanneh at the top of the box. The veteran defender put a rocket on net only for it to be stopped by a spectacular save from Rimando.

For the first time in six years the Rapids failed to make the playoffs but it’s not too early for fans to get in on the action as 2008 season tickets are currently on sale and deposits are being taken now for next season. Fans can visit the Season Ticket page on the Rapids' website or call (303) 825-GOAL for more info. and to reserve their seats for '08.
Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Goalkeeper #1 Bouna Coundoul

Scoring Summary:
RSL – Findley (Talley) 87'

Lineups:

Colorado Rapids – Bouna Condoul Kosuke Kimura Ugo Ihemelu (Tony Sanneh 40) Mike Petke Facundo Erpen Terry Cooke (Jacob Peterson 22) Pablo Mastroeni Jose Cancela Colin Clark Conor Casey Jovan Kirovski (Omar Cummings 61)

Substitutes not used: Zach Thornton Daniel Osorno Nicolas Hernandez Mehdi Ballouchy

Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando Chris Wingert Matias Mantilla Eddie Pope (Chris Lancos 54) Ritchie Kotschau Nathan Sturgis Carey Talley Kyle Beckerman Chris Brown (Andy Williams 73) Alecko Eskandarian Fabian Espindola (Robbie Findley 57)

Substitutes not used: Chris Seitz Kyle Brown Atiba Harris Dustin Kirby

Misconduct Summary:
RSL – Beckerman (Caution) 1

RSL – Talley (Caution) 34

COL – Erpen (Caution) 72

RSL – Mantilla (Caution) 90

Referee:Jair Marrufo

Referees Assts.: Paul Scott; Peter Balciunas

Fourth Official: Jozef Batko

Attendance: 14777