Colorado Rapids forward Vicente Sanchez earns rave reviews after delivering gorgeous winner

COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- “Who’s that shifty player that you brought in?”

That’s what members of the LA Galaxy coaching staff were left asking Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni about Vicente Sanchez after Sanchez’s wonder-goal handed his side a 1-0 win on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Sanchez is 34, battled a knee problem the entire first half vs. LA and has started only once in the last four games, but that didn’t stop him from unleashing an absolutely beautiful goal in the 20th minute of Saturday’s win.

After a cleared corner, Sanchez dribbled in and chipped a ball towards the back post. His shot lofted over Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo’s head and kissed off the inside of the far post before going in, giving Sanchez his fifth goal of the young season and unquestionably his prettiest (the other four were penalties).

And yes, he clarified that it was fully intentional and not a cross.

“It was on purpose,” Sanchez told reporters after the game. “There were a lot of players in the area and the only thing I was able to do was put it in the back post.”

Sanchez is the Rapids’ designated flashy player, always good for several eye-catching dribbles around defenders, sneaky cutbacks and slithering passes. He’s Pablo Picasso, using a soccer ball to express his creativity rather than a paintbrush, and there was no better stroke painted than his magical first-half goal.

But as Mastroeni explained postgame to the Galaxy coaching staff, it wasn’t he who pried Sanchez away from the Mexican league (Sanchez arrived last August). But he’s sure glad predecessor Oscar Pareja and technical director Paul Bravo closed the deal nine months ago.

“He’s a class player,” Mastroeni said of Sanchez postgame. “He’s a guy that knows what he’s doing two or three steps before anyone else does. That’s why he’s had the kind of career he’s had.”

The bad news: Sanchez hurt his right knee early in the first half, came off at the intermission and will have a scan tomorrow to determine the extent of the injury. But after lifting the Rapids to victory with his big goal on Saturday night, Sanchez was the player receiving the majority of the plaudits.

“We’re just grateful to have a player of his caliber,” Mastroeni said. “He’s an important piece to the movement of this team moving forward.”