Rapids Clinch Playoff Ticket With 3-1 Win Over Chivas USA

CARSON CA (Saturday September 24 2005)- The Colorado Rapids clinched a spot in the 2005 Major League Soccer playoffs tonight with a 3-1 win over Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.

(To view video highlights from this match CLICK HERE).

The win secured at least the final spot in the playoffs for the Rapids. However with four games left in the season - one against Chivas and two against the other Western Conference bottom-dweller Real Salt Lake - the Rapids (37 points) have a good chance at overtaking the struggling L.A. Galaxy (42 points) or FC Dallas (43 points) for the third or second seeds in the playoffs as they still have 4 regular season matches remaining.

(To view the complete Rapids standings and playoff information page CLICK HERE).

Goalkeeper Byron Foss had another fine showing in net for the Rapids after earning a shutout in his first career MLS start in a 2-0 midweek win against Real Salt Lake. Foss has assumed the starting spot as regular 'keeper Joe Cannon is out with an abdominal strain.

The Rapids were also without the services of two regulars Jeff Cunningham (coach's decision) and Mike Petke (suspension) but their absences did not affect the club's performance against the struggling expansion side.

Goalkeeper Byron Foss who was making his second career start was called upon early in the game when he had to come off his line to cut a dangerous cross by Antonio Martinez in the second minute of the match.

Foss again came up big for the Rapids in the 14th minute when he deflected a shot from Juan Pablo Garcia to keep his goal unbreached. The Mexican National Team player made a quick move to break free of his defenders before unleashing a powerful shot aimed for the upper right corner of Foss’s goal. The Rapids goalkeeper reacted quickly and utilized his 6'5" frame to deny the goal.

The first goal of the night came in the 19th minute when Arturo Torres finished a cross by Juan Francisco Palencia inside the Rapids penalty area. Palencia recovered a ball near the Rapids' end line before turning and sending a cross to the far post where he found Torres inside of the small box. The Chivas USA forward beat Foss from close range with an accurate header.

The Rapids responded in the 25th minute when Jean Philippe Peguero netted his seventh tally of the season. The play started at Alain Nkong’s feet where he played a through ball for the onrushing Eric Denton at the top of the home team's penalty area. Denton blew by two Chivas defenders before sending a cross to the heart of the penalty area. Peguero met the cross but his header was blocked in mid-air by defender Douglas Sequeira. The loose ball fell in front of the Haitian striker who finished the job by pushing it into the open net.

A penalty kick in the first minute of the second half set the stage for Jovan Kirovski to net his first goal as a Rapids player. Kirovski was brought down by Ezra Hendrickson inside of the home team’s penalty area for referee Marcel Jonan to award the penalty kick. The newly-acquired forward beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to his left side giving the Black and Blue the 2-1 lead.

Rapids fans were excited to see newly-acquired striker Diego Serna make his first appearance in a Rapids uniform as he entere the match as a substitute for Peguero in the 77th minute.

Dedi Ben-Dayan sealed the victory in the 93rd minute when he buried a cross from defender Dan Gargan inside of Chivas’s penalty area. Gargan sprinted away from the defense on a quick breakaway before sending his low cross to the near post where he found Ben-Dayan. The Israeli international one-timed the cross for a spectacular goal beating Guzan and securing the Rapids' spot in the playoffs.

For Head Coach Fernando Clavijo this will be his second Major League Soccer playoff appearance. His first appearance came in 2000 with the New England Revolution.

This will be the fourth consecutive playoff appearance for the Colorado Rapids and the eighth in franchise history. The Rapids did not qualify for the playoffs in either the 1996 or 2001 MLS seasons.

The Rapids will return to Colorado tomorrow to prepare for their final two regular season home games at INVESCO Field at Mile High starting on Saturday October 1st at 7:00 p.m. (MT) against Real Salt Lake followed by their home match against Chivas USA next Wednesday October 5th at 7:30 p.m. (MT).

Colorado Rapids (11-13-4) vs. Chivas USA (3-21-5)
September 24 2005 -- The Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary:
CHV -- Arturo Torres 2 (Juan Francisco Palencia 1) 19
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero 7 (Eric Denton 5 Alain Nkong 3) 25
COL -- Jovan Kirovski 5 (penalty kick) 47
COL -- Dedi Ben Dayan 2 (Dan Gargan 2) 93+


Colorado Rapids -- Byron Foss Nat Borchers Pablo Mastroeni Ritchie Kotschau (Dedi Ben-Dayan 60) Terry Cooke (Hunter Freeman 87) Dan Gargan Kyle Beckerman Alain Nkong Eric Denton Jean Philippe Peguero (Diego Serna 77) Jovan Kirovski.
Substitutes Not Used: Bouna Coundoul Leo Cullen

Chivas USA -- Brad Guzan Ezra Hendrickson Douglas Sequeira Orlando Perez Jesus Ochoa Juan Pablo Garcia Ramon Ramirez (Isaac Romo 62) Esteban Arias Arturo Torres (Matt Taylor 68) Juan Francisco Palencia Antonio Martinez.
Substitutes Not Used: Armando Begines Milton Blanco Hector Cuadros Christian Jimenez Mike Munoz Rodrigo Lopez Sergio Garcia

Misconduct Summary:
CHV -- Juan Pablo Garcia (caution; Tackle from Behind) 36
COL -- Dan Gargan (caution; Tackle from Behind) 42
CHV -- Ramon Ramirez (caution; Tackle from Behind) 49
CHV -- Douglas Sequeira (caution; Reckless Foul) 59
CHV -- Arturo Torres (caution; Dissent) 66
COL -- Byron Foss (caution; Delaying a Restart) 89
CHV -- Esteban Arias (caution; Tackle from Behind) 90
COL -- Alain Nkong (caution; Delaying a Restart) 90
COL -- Diego Serna (caution; Delaying a Restart) 91+

Referee: Marcel Yonan
Referee's Assistants: David Bragg; Fabio Tovar
4th official: Ramon Hernandez
time of game: 1:55
attendance: 11789
weather: Clear -and- 70 degrees