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INVESCO FIELD at MILE HIGH
7 pm MT (HDNet; FSN-RM; MSG)
The Colorado Rapids return home after a pair of mixed results on a two-game road trip, still having maintained their mid-table standing in the Western Conference, though they are just two points out of last place. The MetroStars come into town still leading the Eastern Conference and just two points off the best overall record in the league, but also come off a disheartening late loss to the Dallas Burn and now have just a three-point lead in the East.
REFEREE: Erich Simmons. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Steven Davidson; 4th: Mark Geiger
MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 34.4; Y/gm: 4.7; R: 6; pens: 2
Games involving Rapids: P4 W0 L3 T1; FC/gm: 32.8; Y/gm: 5.5; R: 2; pens: 2
Games involving MetroStars: P1 W1 L0 T0; FC/gm: 38.0; Y/gm: 6.0; R: 1; pens: 1
INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: FW Jean-Philippe Peguero (abdominal strain); DF Jeff Stewart (R knee); FW Zizi Roberts (R knee swelling); QUESTIONABLE: FW Rey Angel Martinez (L toe); DF Pablo Mastroeni (L quadriceps strain); MD Darryl Powell (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Gary Sullivan (L leg stress fracture)
METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle ruptured tendon); DF Craig Ziadie (L knee LCL sprain); MD Mark Lisi (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: MET: Pablo Brenes (Costa Rica Olympic team)
YELLOW PERIL: COL: Kyle Beckerman (20 CP); Nat Borchers (20 CP); Darryl Powell (18 CP) ... MET: Kenny Arena (10 CP in 2 gms); Eddie Gaven (8 CP in 2 gms); Amado Guevara (18 CP)
This is the second of two meetings this season between the clubs, the only one in Denver. On June 30 at Giants Stadium, the Rapids scored two goals over the final 11 minutes to claim a 3-2 victory.
Jordan Cila scored the first two goals of his professional career, and Nat Borchers scored his first MLS goal, as the Rapids came back to claim the full three points at Giants Stadium.
The visitors took the lead after just 13 minutes, new signing Alberto Delgado corralling a long cross and laying it back for Cila, who hit home with precision from just inside the area. But the Metros pulled level 10 minutes later, Eddie Gaven getting free for a clear header on Joselito Vaca's pinpoint cross from the left, finishing off a fine passing sequence.
Sergio Galvan Rey then scored his first MLS goal eight minutes after the restart, walking onto a perfectly placed header from Jeff Parke on a corner. But the Rapids scored twice off set pieces for the victory, Borchers ripping home a loose ball in the box after a free kick, then Cila turning home a Borchers header from close range after a corner.
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-1-3-2): Jonny Walker - Craig Ziadie, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Chris Leitch - Ricardo Clark - Joselito Vaca, Amado Guevara, Eddie Gaven (Mike Magee 84) - Sergio Galvan Rey (John Wolyniec 84), Fabian Taylor (Cornell Glen 61).
Here's Tim Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Pablo Mastroeni, Ritchie Kotschau (Gary Sullivan 69) - Chris Henderson, Matt Crawford, Kyle Beckerman, Joey DiGiamarino (Seth Trembly 46) - Jordan Cila, Alberto Delgado
A year ago, the MetroStars won two of the three meetings, the Rapids winning the other. The MetroStars won twice in three weeks in each stadium, claiming a 2-1 win at Giants Stadium on May 3 (Mathis 51, Ziadie 62 - Roberts 41), then repeating the feat with a 2-0 win at Invesco Field on May 17 (Mathis 51, Magee 60).
The Rapids then claimed a 1-0 victory in the Mile High City on July 26 (Chung 25).
The road teams have claimed four of the last six meetings between the clubs, over the last three seasons. The MetroStars have lost just once in their last five visits to Denver (over the past four seasons) - in their final meeting last season.
The Rapids have won just three of the last 10 meetings in the series (since the 2000 campaign), with one of those matches a draw.
Joselito Vaca leads current MetroStars with 2 goals, 3 assists against Colorado - but has yet to play against the Rapids while with Metro. He is one of just three current Metros with goals against Colorado - Craig Ziadie (1 goal, 1 assist) and Mike Magee (1 goal) the others.
Mark Chung leads current Rapids with 2 goals, 2 assists against his former club, with 1 goal, 2 assists while in Colorado. Chris Henderson has 1 goal, 9 assists for his career v MetroStars, but just 2 assists have come while with the Rapids. Just two other current Rapids - John Spencer and Zizi Roberts - have goals against the Metros (1 goal each).
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v COL: P20 W10 L8 T2 ... Tim Hankinson v MET: P18 W8 L9 T1
ALL-TIME (20 meetings): Rapids 9 wins (0 shootout), 25 goals ... MetroStars 10 wins (0 shootout), 33 goals ... 1 draw
AT DENVER (10 meetings): Rapids 5 wins, 11 goals ... MetroStars 4 wins, 11 goals ... 1 draw
Two long-range bombs in a three-goal second-half burst gave the Rapids a 3-0 victory against the Fire and match the results from the rest of the lower half of the Western Conference, while the home side failed to build on their midweek victory that ended a long winless run.
Mark Chung ripped a drive from some 25 yards out from goal, beating Henry Ring high inside his right-hand spot (50), then 17 minutes later Matt Crawford doubled the Colorado lead with an equally impressive strike, curling home a shot from well outside the left side of the area.
John Spencer then capped the scoring with his second goal in as many games after a long scoreless drought, heading home a Chung freekick whipped in from the left (80) as the Rapids snapped a two-game losing skid.
Rapids coach Tim Hankinson made two changes to the team that lost 3-1 to D.C. United the previous Wednesday, again reconfiguring his tactical scheme. Gary Sullivan returned to the substitutes bench after making a first start in 11 matches, Joey DiGiamarino returning to the first team after a four-match absence. Jordan Cila also came back into the team, replacing the injured Alberto Delgado.
Here's Hankinson's team: Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford, Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman, Mark Chung, Joey DiGiamarino (Seth Trembly 70), John Spencer, Jordan Cila (Gary Sullivan 81)
"We survived the first half and reorganized in the second half to make sure we could get better pressure in the midfield,'' Hankinson said. "[Matt] Crawford's goal was miraculous.''
Crawford's goal was also named the MLS Sierra Mist Goal of the Week. "John Spencer told me he was getting ready to scream at me because he said he was open when I took the shot," Crawford said. "He was going to scream until he saw it going in, so he decided to celebrate."
It was also a quality strike from a player who has played a number of positions for the Rapids, lately settling into a left back role. "He is able to put himself between an oncoming striker, the ball and the goal line and use his body to slow them down and edge them off," said Hankinson.
The Colorado Rapids ended their two-game losing streak in style, getting two tremendous goals in a 3-0 victory against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field on Saturday night. The Rapids needed to win to keep pace in the Western Conference, still level in third place with the Dallas Burn on 29 points from 22 matches, two ahead of the last-place San Jose Earthquakes and three out of second.
The Eastern Conference leaders lost their chance to take over the lead in the MLS overall table when Toni Nhleko gave the Burn a surprise late victory in second-half added time against the MetroStars, ending the home side's winning streak and five-game unbeaten run.
A taut midfield battle barely opened up over the final half-hour, but just when it seemed as if the teams would share the points, Oscar Pareja burst through with a failed clearance and clipped a perfect cross to an unmarked Nhleko just inside the spot, and he powerfully headed home.
"They don't offer much in the way of creation," said goalkeeper Jonny Walker. "[They're] not very exciting, pretty ugly, a very defensive team. They came in, did what they had to do to hold a result and we gave it to them at the end.
MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley made two changes to the team that defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 at home the previous Sunday, both due to national team duty. Eddie Pope was away with the USA for their match against Jamaica, Kenny Arena replacing him in the heart of the back four. Amado Guevara was called into the Honduras team for the Costa Rica qualifier, Ricardo Clark coming into his central midfield role.
Here's Bradley's team (4-3-1-2): Jonny Walker - Tenywa Bonseu, Kenny Arena, Jeff Parke, Chris Leitch - Joselito Vaca, Ricardo Clark (Tim Regan 81), Eddie Gaven - Mike Magee - John Wolyniec, Cornell Glen (Sergio Galvan Rey 46).
"Amado is a very important player and so is Eddie, but still we have players that can step up and play their part, play their role," Walker said. "Everyone pretty much did that tonight. We had a few chances, we had a chance to win the game, and it just didn't happen for us."
Although he too said the absences of Guevara and Pope didn't affect his team, Bradley admitted that his team lost their composure in the loss.
"I could sense that. We didn't have good enough concentration at the end of the game," Bradley said. "[It's about] being smarter instead of rushing and kicking the ball up the field, understanding what's going on."
Pope played the entire match in the center of defense in the USA's 1-1 draw with Jamaica to open the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Jonny Walker was an unused substitute, while Eddie Gaven was called into the squad but was not among the 18 available players.
After picking up an injury in the friendly against Guatemala the week before, which forced him off after 65 minutes Cornell Glen was not called into the Trinidad & Tobago team for their qualifier away to St. Vincent & Grenadines. However, Glen did start against the Burn in between.
The MetroStars saw their three-game winning streak ended in dramatic fashion, a stunning goal in stoppage time gave the Dallas Burn a 1-0 victory on Sunday night at the Meadowlands. The MetroStars still lead the East on 32 points from 21 matches, six ahead of the Columbus Crew.