Rapids Rally From Behind But Fall Short in 3-2 Loss to Wizards in Season Opener

Kansas City MO (Colorado Rapids Media Relations)- The Colorado Rapids fell 3-2 to the Kansas City Wizards tonight at Arrowhead Stadium in the team's 2005 Season Opener. Goals from Jeff Cunningham and Mark Chung sparked Colorado's offensive rally but the team fell short on their comeback.

The first opportunity of the night came in the 11th minute when defender Guy Melamed was surprised by a quick Josh Wolff who stole the ball from him at the top of the 18 forcing Joe Cannon to make his first save of the year on a one-on-one play against the US National Team forward. The rebound off Cannon's save fell in the path of onrushing midfielder Jack Jewsbury whose shot on goal was cleared out of danger by Rapids rookie defender Hunter Freeman.

The Rapids created some dangerous opportunities down the flanks with Chris Henderson and Martin Morales joining the attack on their respective sidelines but their crosses in the first half didn't find their targets to finish a successful play.

Jean Philippe Peguero had an opportunity in the 33rd minute after receiving a long pass from midfielder Pablo Mastroeni just past midfield. The 2004 Rapids leading goal-scorer one-timed the bouncing ball from 30 yards out forcing goalkeeper Bo Oshoniyi to make a spectacular diving save.

The game continued with both teams constantly battling for midfield possession and it wasn't until the 34th minute when the deadlock was broken. Wizards defender Sasha Victorine played a long pass to Wolff who beat his defender to a bouncing ball before burying it past Cannon from just five yards out for the 1-0 lead.

The Wizards added another goal six minutes later when Jewsbury put a loose ball into the back of an open net. Wolff again broke free from his mark with enough space to get a shot on goal that was blocked by a diving Ritchie Kotschau. The rebound fell at the feet of Jewsbury who only had to push it into the back of the net past the fallen Cannon and Rapids central defender Nat Borchers who also had dove for the initial block.

The Black and Blue responded in the 54th minute with a goal from forward Jeff Cunningham who had come into the game as a sub barely 10 seconds before. A quick flick by Borchers who was deep in the Wizards' territory set off a give-and-go with Chris Henderson leaving the veteran midfielder flying solo down the right wing. Henderson's cross into the heart of the Wizards penalty area found Cunningham whose header beat Oshoniyi to his far post for the first goal of the Rapids' season.

The Wizards added another goal in the 61st minute by Chris Klein. Wolff combined with Klein on a quick breakaway that left the Kansas City midfielder alone in front of Cannon and Klein was able to beat the defending MLS Goalkeeper of the Year to the far post with a powerful shot.

Fernando Clavijo's second half substitutions paid off in the 81st minute when a combination between Alain Nkong and Kyle Beckerman left Mark Chung on a direct run towards the Wizards' goal. Chung first-timed a through pass and beat Oshoniyi to his far post for the second Rapids goal of the night. Nkong recorded his first point in MLS with the assist.

The Rapids return to Denver tomorrow and will hold five training sessions prior to the team's home opener on Saturday April 9th at 7:00 p.m. when they host FC Dallas and their newly-acquired striker Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz at INVESCO Field at Mile High.

Scoring:
COL- Cunningham (Henderson Borchers 54'); Chung (Beckerman Nkong 81')
KCW- Wolff (Victorine Oshoniyi 34'); Jewsbury (Unassisted); Klein(Wolff 61')

Rapids Lineups: Cannon Freeman Borchers Melamed Kotschau Henderson Beckerman Mastroeni (Nkong 45') Morales (Chung 61') Peguero (Cunningham 53') Harris

Bench: Foss Chung Cunningham Gonzalez Nkong

Wizards Starting Lineup: Oshoniyi Jewsbury Conrad Garcia Burciaga Klein Gutierrez Zavagnin Victorine Wolff Arnauld

Bench: Hesmer Brandan Preki Roberts Sealy Stephenson Thomas Walsh Zotinca