COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- One of the strengths of the 2010 Colorado Rapids is that the team is not relying overly on the obvious pairing of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings for its goals. When the tandem has not been able to fire on all cylinders, someone else has stepped up to the plate. Tonight, it was the unlikely figure of center back Drew Moor who capped a fine defensive performance with a late goal to give the Rapids their third straight 1-0 victory.
As Colorado head coach Gary Smith had predicted, chances were few and far between for most of the match until the game opened up in the last quarter.
Playing a man down after Pablo Mastroeni was sent off in the 76th minute for a lunge at Columbus striker Steven Lenhart, Colorado refocused and squeezed out the win when Moor rose to meet a perfectly placed freekick from substitute Jamie Smith to head the ball past William Hesmer in the 85th minute.
The goal was all the sweeter for Moor, who celebrated with family members in town at the final whistle.
“I don’t know if that provided a little extra motivation to get my head on the freekick, but it’s always nice to score in front of family,” Moor said after the game. “Jamie [Smith] put it right in the danger spot, right at the top of the six-yard box.”
Moor said he was just as delighted with the third straight clean sheet for the Rapids as he was with his goal. It was a tough challenge against Columbus, and there was friction at times in the Rapids defense. At one point in the first half, Matt Pickens and Julien Baudet were going at it hammer and tong.
“When you are playing against players like [Steven] Lenhart, [Guillermo Barros] Schelotto, [Eddie] Gaven and [Robbie] Rogers, they are a handful and you’ve got to be on the same page,” said Moor. “For the most part, we were.”
Head coach Smith said it wasn’t the best performance by his team --he thought they played better in the 1-0 defeat against LA last month--, but he was delighted with the way the team grinded out another impressive victory.
While he did single out Moor’s contribution and added that he was very happy that Jamie Smith got some vital game time after being out for a long time, it was the determination of his team as a whole that shone through on a tough night.
“Tonight, winning was everything,” coach Smith said. “The players have shown some qualities tonight: Some real character, some gritty determination and a willingness to not lie down and die.”
The Rapids now face a quick turnaround with a trip to Chicago for a Wednesday night game, their last before the World Cup break.