Rapids book trip to postseason with win
an early second-half penalty kick that proved to be the game-winner -- after both sides traded first half goals, Jean-Philippe Peguero scoring for the Rapids and Arturo Torres netting a tally for Chivas. Dedi Ben Dayan added a late goal to round out the result.
The win secured at least the final spot in the playoffs for the Rapids. However, with four games left in the season - one against Chivas and two against the other Western Conference bottom-dweller, Real Salt Lake - the Rapids (37 points) have a good chance at overtaking the struggling L.A. Galaxy (39 points) for the third seed in the playoffs, as they also have a game in hand.
Byron Foss had another fine showing in net for the Rapids after earning a shutout in his first career MLS start in a 2-0 midweek win against Real Salt Lake. Foss has assumed the starting spot as regular 'keeper Joe Cannon is out with an abdominal strain.
The Rapids were also without the services of two regulars, Jeff Cunningham (coach's decision) and Mike Petke (suspension), but their absences did not affect the club's performance against the struggling expansion side.
In the 13th minute, Ramon Ramirez dragged down Peguero as he streaked towards the goal on the left edge of the penalty area. Ritchie Kotschau took the ensuing free kick and passed to Kyle Beckerman, alone 20 yards straight away from goal. Beckerman's shot however, was low and deflected off a Chivas defender inside the area.
Foss kept his clean sheet intact as he batted away a Juan Pablo Garcia shot from six yards out in the 14th minute after Garcia sliced through two Rapids defenders with a clever turnaround move.
It didn't take much longer for Chivas to break through the Rapids defense.
In the 19th minute Juan Francisco Palencia beat Pablo Mastroeni in a foot race to reach a loose ball as it rolled towards the Rapids end line. Palencia got a foot on the ball, knocked it back into the area, shook Mastroeni off and sent a floating cross to Torres. Torres waited patiently for the ball four yards from goal, crouched and lunged for a diving header, beating Eric Denton and 'keeper Foss to give the hosts the early 1-0 advantage.
The Rapids answered just six minutes later.
Denton raced past Chivas defender Orlando Perez on the right flank, cut inside towards the goal and sent a cross in as Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan slid to knock it away. Peguero out-jumped tall Chivas defender Ezra Hendrickson but his header deflected off Hendrickson's head. The ball, however, landed at Peguero's feet and he quickly poked it past Douglas Sequeira to square the score.
Chivas nearly went ahead on the half hour mark but Palencia's open shot from the top of the 18-yard box sailed just over the crossbar.
Just moments after the second half started, the Rapids took a 2-1 lead after Kirovski converted a penalty kick. Kirovski earned the spot kick after being taken down in the box by Hendrickson, though he appeared to get mostly ball on his tackle. The goal was Kirovski's first in a Rapids uniform after being acquired from the Galaxy on Sept. 13.
The goal had a calming effect on the Rapids as they were able to maintain the pace of the match and expose the Chivas defense on several occasions after the already attack-oriented hosts put more bodies in the offensive third.
Second half substitution Ben Dayan added a stoppage time goal for the Rapids off a close range shot inside the box off a Dan Gargan cross after he went on a rampaging run down the right flank.
With the win, the Rapids now head home for a pair of matches, against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1 and Chivas on Oct. 5, before finishing the season with consecutive road matches.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jean-Philippe Peguero (Colorado Rapids)
Danny Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.