The eight-year veteran recorded four goals on the week including his first career hat trick helping the Rapids defeat Chivas USA 3-1 on Saturday night in The Home Depot Center. Cunningham also scored the lone goal in the team’s midweek 1-0 win at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
This is Cunningham’s fourth career MLS Player of the Week honor but his first with Colorado. He previously won on three occasions while with the Columbus Crew (1999 - Week 8; 2002 – 20; 2004 – Week 11).
On Wednesday June 18 at INVESCO Field at Mile High it was Cunningham’s 9th minute penalty kick that gave Colorado the early lead against the Galaxy. The Rapids would hold on two claim the three points despite playing the final 30 minutes with only nine men after two player received red cards.
Three days later in California Cunningham again got Colorado on the board first in the game’s 30th minute. Forward Luchi Gonzalez took a ball at midfield and advance downfield before finding an open Cunningham outside the top of the area. Cunningham took one touch before sending a 20-yard shot into the upper right netting past a diving Brad Guzan for his sixth goal of the year.
In the 62nd minute Cunningham again was on the end of a play that began with a teammate. Jean Philippe Peguero took a ball into the area from the right drawing three defenders before laying the ball off in the center of the box to a wide open Cunningham. The 28-year old settled the ball and fired a shot to the top corner before Guzan had time to cut down his angle.
"I'm very excited about (the hat trick) but to be honest I'm more excited about the points Cunningham told MLSnet.com after the game. "I'm hoping this will be the turning point for us. It's not necessarily desperation time but it's time for us to start peaking. It's a matter of getting results."
Cunningham the League’s leading scorer with eight goals put away his third of the night in the 78th minute. Substitute midfielder Dan Gargan sent a long throw-in from midfield into space down the left side allowing Cunningham to collect the ball behind the defense and beat Guzan to the far side from inside the area.
Cunningham who becomes the first Rapids player to be recognized with the weekly honor since Mark Chung won in Week 14 of the 2003 season was selected ahead of two other nominees: D.C. United teammates Christian Gomez and Jaime Moreno.
The Honda Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected every week throughout the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA).
2005 MLS PLAYER OF THE WEEK WINNERS
Week 1: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew)
Week 2: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 3: Jon Busch (Columbus Crew)
Week 4: Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution)
Week 5: Amado Guevara (MetroStars)
Week 6: Freddy Adu (D.C. United)
Week 7: Josh Wolff (Kansas City Wizards)
Week 8: Ronnie O’Brien (FC Dallas)
Week 9: Carlos Ruiz (FC Dallas)
Week 10: Nate Jaqua (Chicago Fire)
Week 11: Zach Wells (MetroStars)
Week 12: Jeff Cunningham (Colorado Rapids)