DENVER CO (10-02-04)- The Colorado Rapids assured themselves of a spot in the 2004 MLS Playoffs with a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes in front of 12323 fans at INVESCO Field at Mile High tonight.
Jean Philippe Peguero scored the Rapids' only goal early in the first half and Joe Cannon made a key save off Ronnie Ekelund on a penalty kick in first half stoppage time to keep the Rapids in front.
Despite surrendering a late goal to Dwayne DeRosario giving the game its 1-1 final the Rapids remain in a second place tie in the Western Conference and improve to 10-9-10 with 40 points on the season.
Jean Philippe Peguero who was returning to the lineup after missing the Rapids’ last match because of an injury nearly put Colorado in front in the 13th minute. Peguero slid the ball to Jordan Cila on the right wing and the rookie forward hit a first time cross back to Peguero who had drifted to the center of the penalty area. The Haitian forward hit a first time volley with his right foot that beat San Jose keeper Pat Onstad but not his right post as the ball crashed off the woodwork and bounced clear of danger.
One minute later it was 1-0 for Colorado with Peguero getting his seventh goal of the season. Cila played the ball to Matt Crawford who was making an overlapping run on the right wing. Crawford took the ball into the box and hit a low cross to Peguero who calmly side-footed the ball past Onstad from 10 yards out right between two San Jose defenders putting the Rapids in front.
The Colorado goal forced San Jose to go on the offensive and the move nearly paid off soon after for the visitors. A long through ball from the back found Landon Donovan who collected the ball and raced into the penalty box only to fire his right-footed shot just wide of Cannon’s right post from a tight angle.
The Earthquakes had their best chance to equalize just before the intermission when referee Ricardo Salazar whistled Cannon for a foul in the box leading to a San Jose penalty kick. Eddie Robinson played a long ball into the box for Donovan who was able to touch the ball past the diving Cannon. San Jose was awarded a penalty kick on the play and Ronnie Ekelund stepped up to take the spot kick. However Cannon guessed correctly and saved and held Ekelund's low-power shot sending the Colorado faithful into pandemonium. It was Cannon's second PK save of the season.
San Jose was on the offensive from the start of the second half and nearly grabbed an equalizer in the 51st minute. After a series of extended pressure from the Earthquakes Colorado native Brian Mullan got the ball on his foot at the top right corner of the six yard box. He tried to play a short square pass into the center of the box for Donovan who was wide open. However Ritchie Kotschau read the play perfectly and slid in to take the ball off of Donovan’s foot and cleared the ball away from danger.
The Rapids looked to double their lead in the 60th minute when Jean Philippe Peguero slammed a header past Onstad from six yards out off a cross from Chris Henderson on the right wing. However Peguero was ruled to be offside and the goal was nullified and the game stayed 1-0.
It would stay that way until the 82nd minute when the Earthquakes were able to pull back a controversial equalizer. San Jose had a free kick near midfield and the Rapids were attempting to make a substitution bringing Seth Trembly into the game. Before he could get all the way onto the park the Earthquakes quickly took the free kick catching Colorado off guard. The ball was played out to Ryan Cochrane on the right and he carried it across the midfield stripe before crossing the ball into the box for DeRosario who slid in and redirected the cross past Cannon from six yards out tying the score at 1-1.
Following the late goal neither team was able to create any clear chances and the match finished 1-1 sending the Rapids into the postseason for the third consecutive season and the seventh time in team history.
The Rapids have a bye next weekend and don’t return to action until Saturday October 16 at 7:00 p.m. (MT) when they take on Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew in the final regular season game of the year for both clubs at INVESCO Field at Mile High.
Tickets for this game are on sale now and reservations are also now being taken for all home 2004 Rapids Playoff matches. Call 303-825-GOAL for more information.
Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Jean Philippe Peguero
COL – Peguero (Crawford Cila) 14’.
SJE – DeRosario (Cochrane) 82’.
COLORADO RAPIDS— Joe Cannon Ricky Lewis Nat Borchers Ritchie Kotschau Matt Crawford Pablo Mastroeni Mark Chung Chris Henderson Jordan Cila (Seth Trembly 82’ Alberto Delgado 89’) Jean Philippe Peguero John Spencer (Kyle Beckerman 58’).
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Peguero 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Peguero 2); FOULS: 21 (Henderson 4); OFFSIDE: 8; CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 2 (Cannon 2); CAUTIONS: Mastroeni 25’; EJECTIONS: None.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES— Pat Onstad Troy Dayak Jeff Agoos Eddie Robinson (Todd Dunivant 46’) Ryan Cochrane Ramiro Corrales Richard Mulrooney Ronnie Ekelund (Ian Russell 67’) Brian Mullan Chris Brown (Dwayne DeRosario 46’) Landon Donovan.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Ekelund 2) SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1) FOULS: 16 (Ekelund 4) OFFSIDE: 4; CORNER KICKS: 3 SAVES: 4 (Onstad 4) CAUTIONS: Robinson 24’; Dayak 87’; EJECTIONS: None.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar.
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner Nate Clement
4th Official: Abbey Okulaja.
Temperature: 67 degrees and partly cloudy.