Drew Moor turned up the unlikely hero as his goal in the 85th minute gave Colorado a 1-0 over Columbus and the third spot in the Western Conference. It was the Rapids third consecutive shutout, bringing the team's record 6-3-1 (19 points).
Earlier, Rapids head coach Gary Smith had predicted that Saturday’s game against the Crew would have few clear cut chances and also said it was vital for his team to convert when those precious chances did arise. He couldn’t have been more correct.
In what was a battle between the second and third stingiest defenses in MLS, both sides struggled to create openings. The first half was relatively uneventful, with the only decent opportunity coming off the foot of Colorado’s Colin Clark in the 30th minute when he received a low cross inside the box. His shot was blocked by the Columbus defense, and the game fell back into a deadlock.
It was only in the last quarter of the game that more and more chances became available for each team as the game opened up amid tiring players.
The first clear-cut chance of the night came in the 73rd minute, as the Crew poured forward in a counter-attack opportunity after Mastroeni passed loosely into the path of the Columbus midfield. Eddie Gaven pushed forward and passed to Steven Lenhart, who then laid the pass off to an open Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The Argentine hammered the ball high over the net, wasting the Crew’s clearest scoring opportunity.
The Rapids came back with their own chance to score two minutes later. Jamie Smith sent a through-ball to Wells Thompson on the right side of the six-yard box. Thompson then sent a short cross to an Omar Cummings who then connected from close range only it to ring the post.
In the 76th minute, things seemingly turned sour for Colorado as Pablo Mastroeni was shown a straight red for lashing out at Lenhart, who poked the ball into the Rapids captain after having tripped him.
With five minutes remaining on the game, the Rapids would finally find the net from a set piece. Smith took the free kick from near the midfield mark and sent in a high cross into the box for a diving Moor. The defender struck the ball hard and into the ground, sneaking it in between the post and Columbus keeper William Hesmer.
Colorado, now third in the Western Conference with 19 points with a game in hand, now face a trip to Chicago midweek before the World Cup break.
Saturday’s match was the last for Columbus, who are now one point behind leaders New York in the Eastern Conference, before the season interlude.
COL – Drew Moor 1 (Jamie Smith 1) 85
Columbus Crew – William Hesmer, Eric Brunner (Jed Zayner 53), Andy Iro, Chad Marshall, Gina Padula (Emilio Renteria 86), Adam Moffat (Emmanuel Ekpo 80), Brian Carroll, Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Steven Lenhart
Substitutes Not Used: Andy Gruenebam, Jason Garey, Duncan Oughton, Francis
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Julien Baudet (Scott Palguta 76), Danny Earls, Mehdi Ballouchy (Jamie Smith 74), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Colin Clark, Conor Casey (Wells Thompson 65), Omar Cummings.
Substitutes Not Used: Claudio Lopez, Quincy Amarikwa, Ross LaBauex, Ian Joyce.
Referee: Kevin Stott; Referee's Assistants: -Kermi Quisenberry, ; 4th Official: Reyes