Rapids Defeat Crew for 1st Win of 2005

DENVER CO (Colorado Rapids Media Relations)- The Colorado Rapids extended the team’s home undefeated streak to 12 regular season games tonight with a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew at INVESCO Field at Mile High. The win was Fernando Clavijo’s first win as Rapids Head Coach.

The first goal of the night came right away in the 2nd minute of the game when Team Captain Pablo Mastroeni netted his first goal as a Rapids player. Mastroeni was set up by Chris Henderson with an accurate header at the top of the Crew’s penalty area. The United States National team regular one-timed the ball and sent a powerful shot into the lower left corner of Jon Busch’s goal sending the still-arriving crowd into celebration.

Henderson had another golden opportunity in the 15th minute when he just missed a low cross from Terry Cooke by inches on an open net.

Cooke came close to netting the second goal of the night in the 17th minute. Former Crew defender Eric Denton send a out-swinging cross to the far side of the visiting team’s penalty area where Cooke was following the play. The former Manchester United player one-timed the cross but wasn’t able to make clear contact with the ball which ended up rolling into the hands of Busch.

The second goal of the night came in the 58th minute when Luchi Gonzalez netted his first goal in a Rapids uniform. Henderson again was credited with the assist when his cross found Gonzalez in the heart of the Crew’s penalty area. The former Sporting Cristal striker headed the ball past Busch beating him to his right side.

Gonzalez came close to scoring his second of the night in the 65th minute when he went around Busch in a one-on-one situation and saw his shot cleared from the goal line by defender Robin Fraser.

The Crew played the final minutes without Mario Rodriguez who was issued a red card in the 75th minute for a violent tackle on Jean Philippe Peguero on the sideline.

"Luchi did outstanding playing the ball outside inside and forcing Columbus to have to play the ball wide out of the back like we wanted them to said Clavijo. "And every time you put the ball in the back of the net it's a plus."

Gonzalez's assist in the first half was his first point in MLS while his goal in the second half was his first MLS goal.

"I made a run for the first cross and I didn't get to it so I figured I'd stay stationary said Gonzalez about his goal. "[Chris] Henderson hit a great cross back to me and fortunately I was able to head it in. It is great to get my first goal in the league and great to get the win."

After a successful college career at Southern Methodist University where he won the 2001 Hermann Trophy and the M.A.C. Player of the Year Award he was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes. But he saw very little time for San Jose that year playing only 47 minutes across eight games.

After the season he moved to Sweden then Gonzalez played for a season for Sporting Cristal in Peru where he won a league championship and played in the Copa Libertadores.

"When I first came into MLS out of college I didn't get very many opportunities and it was very frustrating said Gonzalez. "Then I played abroad and gained a lot of experience and gave me composure and patience so I think playing in foreign leagues has helped me in my return to MLS."

Gonzalez believes that MLS compares well to the other leagues he has played in especially in the way that it incorporates disparate elements of soccer from around the world.

"MLS has a little bit of everything: a little possession a little creativity a little pace a little physicality said Gonzalez. "It's definitely a league that has bits and pieces of all different styles. It's a great melting pot of a league and I'm glad to be back playing in it."

The Rapids will next host the MetroStars on Saturday April 30th at 7:00 p.m. at INVESCO Field at Mile High. This game which was previously scheduled to be aired live on Altitude Sports & Entertainment will not be televised by the Colorado network but will be available on the MLS Direct Kick package. Altitude will air the Rapids vs. Chicago match titled "Marcelo Balboa Hall of Fame Night" on July 23rd at INVESCO Field instead.

Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Luchi Gonzalez

COL- Mastroeni (Henderson Gonzalez 2’); Gonzalez (Henderson 58th)

Misconduct Summary:
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Professional Foul) 38
CLB -- Mario Rodriguez (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 75

Starting Lineups:

COL- Cannon Freeman Borchers Kotschau Denton Henderson Mastroeni Chung Cooke (Cullen 78) Nkong (Peguero 62) Gonzalez

CLB- Busch Kelly (Wingert 61) Fraser Marshall Rodriguez Elliot Martino (Barclay 71) Szetela Hejduk Buddle Razov

To read the complete postgame Coach and Player quote sheet from the match click here.