COMMERCE CITY (Wednesday May 23 2007)- The rain fell hard at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday night but the Rapids did not. Amidst chilly fall-like conditions the Rapids blossomed late in stoppage time off a timely goal from Jacob Peterson in the 93rd minute to defeat Real Salt Lake and earn entry into the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup the oldest and most storied sports tournament in America.
With the victory the Rapids advance to the next round of the tournament. They will play their next match on Tuesday July 10. Their opponent and the venue of the match are still to be determined.
The Rapids who dominated most of the game action began their pressure on Salt Lake’s goal early in the match. Nick LaBrocca set the tempo only two minutes into the game for the Rapids with a shot from 30 yards out which sailed into the hands of Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Chris Seitz.
LaBrocca was involved again only four minutes later when he slid a pass across the 18-yard box to a crashing Jacob Peterson who saw his shot blocked by the visiting team’s defense.
Peterson looked to keep the offensive momentum alive for the Rapids in the eighth minute when he sprinted down the right side of the Salt Lake defense and drove a hard low shot on Seitz who made the save only inches from his left post.
The second half started much like the first one with the Rapids putting the pressure on early. The first significant chance came in the 48th minute when a collision between Rapids forward Connor Casey and Salt Lake goalie Seitz left Peterson with a wide open net at the top of the penalty area. Peterson’s strike from 20 yards out gave the Rapids the first goal of the game a feat which they have now accomplished eight times in their last nine games.
After giving up the first goal Real Salt Lake came back strong peppering shots on Rapids keeper Zach Thorton. A shot in the 64th minute off the foot of Real’s Chris Klein found the lower right side of the net from 20 yards out and tied the game at 1-1.
The pressure continued into the 68th minute when Real forward Chris Brown hit the crossbar off a shot chipped over Thorton from the top of the penalty area.
The Rapids countered with an attack of their own only minutes later when LaBrocca ripped a hard shot past the outstretched arms of Seitz and off the post keeping the game tied.
When everything was pointing to overtime and a potential penalty kick shootout to determine a winner of the match Peterson emerged as the hero of the night. With only seconds left before the referee was to blow the whistle on a quick breakaway he took the ball deep into the visitors' penalty area before letting the game-winning shot fly off his foot. The shot which found the inside of the left post lifted the Rapids past the qualifying stage and into the round of 16 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. With the win the Rapids eliminated Real Salt Lake from participation in the 2007 Open Cup.
Colorado will next return to MLS regular season action this Saturday when they host their Western Conference rivals Los Angeles Galaxy at 6:30 p.m. at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. This game will be broadcast live on Altitude Sports and Entertainment.
SPECIAL STADIUM ACCESS ADVISORY FOR SATURDAY’S RAPIDS GAME:
Rapids fans should plan to arrive to the stadium early on Saturday as Real Colorado's annual youth soccer tournament is taking place on all 24 fields of the Dick's Sporting Goods Park complex all day Saturday and thousands of youth soccer families will be utilizing the fields complex in addition to all the fans coming for the Rapids game.
Fans are encouraged to take the following routes to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to best avoid delays on Saturday:
-Fans entering Dick’s Sporting Goods Park from 60th Ave are encouraged to park in Lots H & G
-Fans entering Dick’s Sporting Goods Park from 64th Ave are encouraged to park in Lots A & AA
-To avoid traffic delays please avoid taking Quebec Ave to 56th Ave. to enter or exit Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
For more information fans can call the Rapids at (303) 825-GOAL.
US Open Cup Qualifying Match
Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids
Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Jacob Peterson
COL- Peterson (Unassisted) 48
COL- Peterson (Casey) 93+
Colorado Rapids – Zach Thorton Dan Gargan Steven Keel Chris Wingert Nico Colaluca (Omar Cummings 66) Daniel Wasson Jose Cancela (Colin Clark 76) Nick LaBrocca Ugo Ihemelu (Pablo Mastroeni 85) Conor Casey Jacob Peterson.
RSL- Harris 38 (Caution)
COL- Ihemelu 38 (Caution)
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Referees Assts.: Dion Telting Matthew Grove