The Colorado Rapids joined Seattle at the top of the Western Conference on Friday night, downing Chivas USA 1-0 at the Home Depot Center. A second-half goal from Omar Cummings was the difference as the visitors won their first-ever road season-opener, while handing the Red-and-White their first loss in a season-opener since 2005.
The first half saw tentative play from both sides as they looked to dust off the cobwebs from the off-season. There were glimmers of offense here and there, but play was largely contested in the midfield where resilient defending from both teams halted most of the attacking play.
Chivas USA funneled most of their offense through newly appointed team captain Sacha Kljestan. The young SoCal native looked comfortable in his new role, distributing the ball well through the midfield and making things difficult for Colorado’s midfielders. On the other side of the pitch, veterans Conor Casey and Omar Cummings led the charge for the Rapids.
It was Cummings who had the best chance of the first 45, sprinting past Chivas USA defender Michael Umaña to find himself alone in front of net. He hit a line drive toward the right post, but his effort was pushed wide right by an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
While the second half was much more back and forth, it was Chivas USA who enjoyed the majority of possession.
Colorado came out firing in the second half and finally broke the deadlock in the 55th minute. Left midfielder Colin Clark provided the spark, attacking the top left corner of the Chivas USA penalty area. He slotted a quick pass along the 18-yard line to Cummings, who turned and drilled a one-touch shot into the lower right corner of the net. It was a brilliant display of composure in the box from Cummings, who netted eight times last season.
Chivas USA pushed hard in the closing 20 minutes of the match, but looked a bit out of sorts in the offensive third. Midfielders Kljestan, Osael Romero and Jesús Padilla pushed forward with pace, but failed to complete the final pass on a number of occasions.
At the front of the Red-and-White attack, substitute strikers Justin Braun and Chukwudi Chijindu worked hard to retain possession, but struggled to really challenge Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
Colorado will be happy with the result, given that it only won two games on the road during all of last season. Casey and Cummings look as dangerous as ever, and new acquisition Marvell Wynne appeared to be comfortable on the Rapids back line.
Colorado will now turn its focus to April 3, when the team will host the Chicago Fire in its home-opener. Chivas USA, meanwhile, will face the LA Galaxy on April 1 in the first of the team’s two Super Clásico matches against their in-stadium rivals.
COL – Omar Cummings 1 (Colin Clark), 55th minute
CHV – Osael Romero (caution, tactical foul), 36th minute
COL – Jeff Larentowicz (caution, delaying a restart), 49th min
Chivas USA: Kennedy, Trujillo, Bornstein, Umaña, Jazic, Kljestan, Saragosa, Lahoud (Padilla), Flores (Braun), Galindo (Chijindu), Romero
Colorado: Pickens, Kimura, Moor, Earls (Palguta), Wynne, Larentowicz, Ballouchy, Mastroeni (Thompson), Clark (LaBauex), Casey, Cummings