The Rapids U17 team opened the 2010 MLS/SUM Cup with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes tonight at the Centennial Soccer Park in Houston.
The Rapids were off to a quick start, four and a half minutes in, when James Rogers calmly lifted a Santiago Velez pass over the San Jose goalkeeper.
The Rapids dominated early possession and threatened several more times in the first fifteen minutes, most notably when Rogers breakaway was thwarted by a last ditch tackle in the box.
Matt Polster, who joins the Rapids from the adidas Alliance team, the Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club, suffered a fractured fibula 16 minutes into the first half. While awaiting approval for his substitute to enter the field, Earthquake midfielder Israel Ayala tied up the score. Ayala's goal came after he dribbled off the right touchline and beat Rapids goalkeeper, Alex Chapin with a 25 yard curling ball.
Polster's replacement, Dillon Serna was quick to make an impact though, finding Rogers behind the Earthquake defense in the 20th minute and the Rapids would again take the lead.
The Rapids continued their first half dominance when Andy Rodriguez found Velez at the right side of the box. Velez’s quick feet momentarily freed him before he was fouled in the box, resulting in a penalty. Velez took the penalty, himself, and the Rapids would find themselves up 3-1.
Several second half changes were necessary for both teams in the heat and humidity of Houston. The second half was played without many opportunities created until San Jose’s Sam Eng headed home a corner kick with 10 minutes remaining to give them life.
Rapids held tight for the remainder of the game to clench three points, placing them at the top of their bracket going into day two. DC United and Chicago Fire, the other two teams in the bracket, tied, giving them each 1 point.
The Rapids face defending champion DC United Saturday, July 24 at 6:30 pm.
Col- James Rogers 1 (Santiago Velez 1), 5’
SJ – Israel Ayala 1, 17’
Col- James Rogers 2 (Dillon Serna 1), 20’
Col- Santiago Velez (pen.), 28’
SJ – Sam Engs, 50’
Col – none
SJ – Jeremy Williams, 52’
Alex Chapin, Andy Rodriguez, Christopher Gurule, Matt Taphorn (cpt.), Karsten Hanlin (Austin Seifert), Avery Ball, Matt Polster (Dillon Serna), Ricardo Perez (Rojesh Shrestha), Juan Carlos Regalado (Eric Kronenberg), James Rogers (David Pardo), Santiago Velez
Subs not used: Andrew Epstein, Jason Prichard, Jordan Spring, Isaac Martinez