Rapids Eliminate Dallas in Game 2 Advance to Western Conference Final for 2nd Straight Year

FRISCO Texas (Sat. Oct. 28 2006)-The Colorado Rapids continued their dominance over FC Dallas by beating them 5-4 in penalty kicks after drawing the Western Conference Semifinals Series 3-3 and finishing the extra time mini-game 1-1 tonight at Pizza Hut Park.

(Re-live all the drama of Saturday night's match including video clips of all the goals match highlights and the penalty kick shootout by CLICKING HERE).

Colorado clearly had the bulk of scoring chances in the entire match and outshot the Hoops by a 7-4 margin in the first half. The Rapids had the first dangerous play of the game in the third minute. Nicolas Hernandez controlled a Kyle Beckerman header in the Dallas penalty area. The Argentine then passed it to Jovan Kirovski who tapped it back to Beckerman who mis-hit the shot.

The Hoops played with 10 men after left back Chris Gbandi was sent off in the 29th minute. The veteran defender was ejected after a hard tackle on Colorado defender Matt Crawford. Ironically enough the red card which was the second of his career came on the same day in which he was honored as FCD's Defender of the Year in a pregame ceremony.

Joe Cannon made his first tough save of the game in the 21st minute. Kenny Cooper came off the wing to take a 23-yard shot that Cannon dove to his right to smoother.

Beckerman had another opportunity in the 24th minute. Jacob Peterson found him with a ball inside the Dallas penalty area. The Maryland native turned and had his shot go across the goal.

Dallas nearly took the lead in the first half. Greg Vanney crossed a free kick that Drew Moor slid to head and his shot trickled just wide.

Clint Mathis had one of the Rapids’ best first half chances. However his left footed shot didn’t curl wide enough as Dario Sala made a diving save.

The controversial goals for FC Dallas in this series continued in the 48th minute. Carlos Ruiz shoved the Rapids' Matt Crawford to the ground while he was waiting for a cross from Ronnie O’Brien before he kicked the ball into the net. Amazingly there was no foul whistled on the play and the goal was allowed to stand as the Rapids defenders looked on in disbelief.

Karma swung back to the way of the Rapids however as Colorado got a deserved goal back just minutes later. Kyle Beckerman avoided several Dallas defenders and crossed the ball to Hernandez who leaped in the air and redirected the ball just over the goalline for the equalizer.

Hernandez had another header in the 74th minute that bounced across the goal and just out of the reach of Kirovski.

The Rapids got the go-ahead goal from Hernandez in the 83rd minute. A Beckerman cross was headed down by Kirovski and the Argentine powered him his second goal of the game with his first touch while spinning toward the goal and knocked home with a world-class finish.

With Colorado’s 2-1 victory in the second leg the series was tied 2-2 on aggregate goals and went to extra time where the teams were to play two 15-minute halves.

FC Dallas took the lead in the 2nd minute of the extra time game. Vanney put in a cross and Clarence Goodson flicked the ball into the far side of the net past a frozen Joe Cannon.

Clint Mathis put the ball in the back of the net in the 95th minute but was judged by the referee’s assistant to be in an offside position when he received the pass from Kirovski. Replays showed that the World Cup goal-scorer was onside and the goal should have counted.

Sala made his first big save of the extra time on a 30-yard Mathis shot.

Beckerman was denied the tying goal in the waning moments of the first extra time period. Sala reached behind and swatted the ball away in his best of many saves in the series.

Mathis saw another of his chances go just wide in the 107th minute.

The Rapids and Mathis broke through in the 114th minute. A poor clearance fell to Mathis’ feet and he scored his fifth career playoff goal (all against Dallas) with an absolute bomb of a 25-yard cracker to the far post that surely is the goal of the playoffs so far.

It also again deadlocked the aggregate at 4-4 and once again meant that the teams would face a penalty shootout.

From the spot FC Dallas converted on four of their six kicks with Vanney hitting the post with the fourth FC Dallas chance. The Rapids hit on their first four chances but with a chance to clinch the series Sala saved Aitor Karanka's low shot.

Sala then brazenly stepped up to take the next PK but saw his own weakly-taken chance perfectly read and saved by Cannon setting the stage for Rapids Team Captain Pablo Mastroeni to step up to decide the game.

Mastroeni calmly stepped up and blasted home his PK past a helpless Sala to send the Rapids into the Western Conference Championship for a second consecutive year.

The Rapids will now travel to take on the winner of the Chivas USA-Houston series on November 4 or 5.

Scoring Summary:
DAL – Ruiz (O’Brien Vanney) 48
COL – Hernandez (Beckerman) 57
COL – Hernandez (Kirovski Beckerman) 83
DAL – Goodson (Vanney) 92
COL – Mathis (unassisted) 114

Penalty Kick Summary:
DAL – Ruiz (Goal)
COL – Mathis (Goal)
DAL – O’Brien (Goal)
COL – Hernandez (Goal)
DAL – Mulrooney (Goal)
COL – Kirovski (Goal)
DAL – Vanney (Missed - Left Post)
COL – Beckerman (Goal)
DAL – Valakari (Goal)
COL – Karanka (Saved)
DAL – Sala (Saved)
COL – Mastroeni (Goal)

Colorado Rapids – Joe Cannon Matt Crawford (Alain Nkong 55) Aitor Karanka Mike Petke Chris Wingert Jacob Peterson (Fabrice Noel 74 Colin Clark 112) Kyle Beckerman Pablo Mastroeni Clint Mathis Nicolas Hernandez Jovan Kirovski
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Jordan Hunter Freeman Dan Gargan Daniel Wasson

FC Dallas – Dario Sala Bobby Rhine (David Wagenfuhr 46) Drew Moor Greg Vanney Chris Gbandi Ronnie O’Brien Richard Mulrooney Simo Valakari Kenny Cooper (Marcelo Saragosa 78) Carlos Ruiz Abe Thompson (Clarence Goodson 46)
Substitutes Not Used: Shaka Hislop Arturo Alvarez Roberto Mina Ramon Nunez

Misconduct Summary:
COL – Mastroeni (Caution) 26
DAL – Gbandi (Ejection) 29
COL – Wingert (Caution) 53
COL – Noel (Caution) 101
DAL – Saragosa (Caution) 112

Referee: Abbey Okulaja
Referee's Assts: Greg Barkey; George Vergara
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Attendance: 15846