The Black and Blue played with great emotion intensity and desire to continue the perennially-strong play that has been seen on Rapids July 4th games in history and controlled the match to send the Wizards packing by the score of 2-1.
On Independence Day in front of a patriotic crowd at INVESCO Field at Mile High the Rapids and Kansas City Wizards came out and immediately set a fast pace for the game.
Jean Philippe Peguero was given a yellow card in the fourth minute for a deliberate hand ball while attempting a header near the Wizards goal.
Kansas City midfielder Diego Gutierrez had the Wizards' first scoring chance with a shot from the top of the eighteen that Joe Cannon made a great save against.
Chris Klein gave the Wizards a 1-0 lead with a possible goal-of-the-year candidate that bounced off the crossbar in the eighth minute. Cannon had no chance to stop the dipping rocket that Klein fired in from just outside the eighteen.
Both teams settled into the game and began to work their respective game plans and kept the action going strong through the first 20 minutes.
The Rapids gained a free kick in the 21st minute when Shavar Thomas fouled Peguero outside the box but the shot from Luchi Gonzalez was booted away.
In the 23rd minute Colorado started to increase the pressure. Peguero sent in a beautiful cross that his teammates were unable to capitalize on.
Moments later on another free kick the Rapids again had a nice cross but were not able to get it in the net.
In the 29th minute Jeff Cunningham nearly tied the game for the Rapids with a left-footed shot after stoning 2 different Wizards defenders with juke-moves but his shot went over the net.
A minute later Peguero had a shot with nearly the same trajectory as the last but with the same result as it too went over the net. The shot was Colorado’s third in as many minutes as the game’s pace continued to pick up.
Chris Klein almost had his second goal of the game in the 32nd minute when Kansas City broke away and through the Colorado defense but Cannon was alert and expertly stopped the shot.
Peguero was given his second yellow card of the night resulting in the mandatory red card in the 40th minute when he again handled the ball while attempting a header. The Rapids were then forced to be a man down for the remainder of the match.
Despite a lot of action from the Rapids that got the crowd into the game Kansas City went into halftime with the 1-0 lead.
Halftime substitutions for the Rapids brought a more attacking flair to the field for the Black and Blue as Kyle Beckerman and Terry Cooke came in for Luchi Gonzalez and Ricky Lewis respectively.
Despite being a man down the Rapids came out of the locker room fired up and their intensity was evident on the pitch. In the 49th minute Beckerman picked up a loose pass and blasted the ball over the goal.
In the 53rd minute Cooke sent in a cross that was barely put out by the Wizards for a Rapids corner. The corner also taken by Cooke forced Oshoniyi to punch the ball out.
The Rapids were able to equalize in the 57th minute when Alain Nkong scored on a pass from Eric Denton. The goal came off a corner kick and was Nkong’s second of the season. The goal immediately sent the packed stadium into hysterics and the crowd fueled the Rapids on even moreso as the club continued to pick up their intensity.
Colorado capitalized on the momentum change again in the 61st minute. When the referee whistled a foul just outside the Wizards' box several Rapids players lined up to take the free kick. When the whistle blew Terry Cooke stepped up and struck a world-class shot that whistled past Bo Oshoniyi for Cooke's first career Rapids and MLS goal. The goal gave Colorado the lead for the first time of the game.
Cunningham put himself in the right place at the right time in the 72nd minute with a close-range shot but Oshoniyi stepped up to take away the angle and to keep the game within reach for the Wizards. Cunningham also had a stellar 50-yard run at goal on a breakaway but was unable to convert past Oshoniyi.
The final ten minutes of play brought a lot of flurries by Kansas City who was trying to avoid the road loss but Colorado was able to take control of the game and hold on to the tempo.
Sasha Victorine nearly tied the game for Kansas City when he attempted a header that just missed to the right of the Rapids' net.
Possibly more remarkable than Colorado’s two goals in five minutes was the outstanding level of defensive play while being a man down for an entire half. A thanks in large part is due to Joe Cannon and his amazing late-game saves including a phenomenal stop with his feet on a Wizards blast.
The Rapids gave the hometown fans a great show and increased the team's overall standings on July 4th games to 9-1-0. The second half had plenty of fireworks that led up to a special postgame concert by the band Blues Traveler that was broadcast live into the stadium via satellite as well as the largest fireworks show in Colorado.
This weekend is a bye weekend for the Rapids who will travel down to Colorado Springs on Sunday at 2:00pm to scrimmage the PDL's Colorado Springs Blizzard. The Rapids will next return to league action as they travel to the Meadowlands to take on the MetroStars on Saturday July 16th. The game will take place at Giants Stadium at 5:30 p.m. (MT). The game can be seen live on Altitude. The Rapids dropped a 3-1 decision to the MetroStars earlier this year at INVESCO Field at Mile High.
Colorado Rapids vs. Kansas City Wizards
July 4 Invesco Field
Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Terry Cooke and Jeff Cunningham (tie)
KC -- Chris Klein 5 (Ryan Pore 1) 8
COL -- Alain Nkong 2 (Eric Denton 1) 57
COL -- Terry Cooke 1 (unassisted) 61
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon Ricky Lewis (Terry Cooke 46) Nat Borchers Mike Petke Ritchie Kotschau Alain Nkong (Dan Gargan 83) Leo Cullen Eric Denton Luchi Gonzalez (Kyle Beckerman 46) Jeff Cunningham Jean Philippe Peguero.
Substitutes Not Used: Byron Foss Hunter Freeman Sasha Gotsmanov Wolde Harris Amir Lowery Guy Melamed.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Jeff Cunningham 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Jeff Cunningham 2); FOULS: 11 (Mike Petke 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Mike Petke 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Eric Denton 4); SAVES: 5 (Joe Cannon 5)
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi Sasha Victorine Nick Garcia Shavar Thomas Jose Burciaga Jr. Chris Klein Diego Gutierrez Kerry Zavagnin Preki (Jack Jewsbury 67) Ryan Pore (Davy Arnaud 53) Scott Sealy.
Substitutes Not Used: Dustin Branan Will Hesmer Brian Roberts.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Chris Klein 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (3 tied with 2); FOULS: 17 (Nick Garcia 5); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Chris Klein 4); SAVES: 2 (Bo Oshoniyi 2)
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero (caution; Deliberate Handball) 4
COL -- Ricky Lewis (caution; Professional Foul) 36
KC -- Jose Burciaga Jr. (caution; Professional Foul) 39
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero (ejection; Second Caution for deliberate handball) 40
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee's Assistants: Robert Fereday; Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Terry Vaughn
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-79-degrees