Sweeping a team in a season series is never easy, and the San Jose Earthquakes found that out Saturday night against Colorado at Spartan Stadium. The Rapids' Jean Philippe Peguero scored midway through the second half to cancel out Ricardo Clark's opener, allowing the visitors to earn a 1-1 tie with the Western Conference leaders.
The result saw the Quakes (10-4-8, 38 points) extend their lead in the West to three points over FC Dallas, who lost 2-1 to New England. Colorado (7-11-4, 25 points) maintained its hold on fourth place, six points in front of Real Salt Lake.
The Rapids suffered a blow before they even arrived in San Jose when midfielder Pablo Mastroeni was left home due to a bout of food poisoning. Mastroeni wasn't expected to start, but his absence left Rapids' head coach Fernando Clavijo with one less option on the bench.
The match began with some sloppy passing on the part of San Jose, with defender Eddie Robinson the primary culprit. The errant passes allowed Colorado the opportunity to settle first. Jeff Cunningham -- the league's leader in goals scored -- dispossessed Robinson in the 13th minute, and his feed found Peguero on the left side of the box, but the Haitian's shot was parried wide by Quakes' goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
The Rapids followed up this attack with two more opportunities inside of a minute. Eric Denton's right wing cross in the 15th minute just eluded Terry Cooke at the far post, and a long-range blast from Denton forced an awkward save from Onstad a minute later.
In addition to creating the better opportunities early on, the Rapids were also more physical, as evidenced by their 17-8 first half advantage in fouls. In particular, Colorado showed they weren't afraid to resort to tactical fouls in midfield to stymie the Quakes' attack.
Colorado's harassing ways worked to good effect, as San Jose struggled to carve out any openings. The home side came close in the 34th minute when Ronald Cerritos' deft chip over the defense just eluded Alejandro Moreno.
San Jose's next opportunity came three minutes later when Dewayne De Rosario drew a foul 25 yards from goal that earned the Rapids' Alain Nkong a yellow card. The Quakes' Brad Davis tried to curl the free kick over the wall, but Rapids' keeper Joe Cannon was alert to the danger and saved easily.
Colorado had the last chance of the half when deep into stoppage time, a Cooke free kick fell into the San Jose box, forcing a wild goalmouth scramble. Cunningham latched onto the ball first, but he lost control as he evaded Onstad's challenge. Robinson's attempted clearance fell straight to the Rapids' Mike Petke, whose header was finally covered up by Onstad.
Whatever frustrations the Quakes felt in the first half were quickly dispelled in the second. In the 47th minute, Moreno fed De Rosario in midfield, and the Canadian international fended off a challenge long enough to find Clark streaking into the box, who blasted his shot into the roof of the net for this second goal of the season.
Colorado responded with a long solo run from Nkong three minutes later, but his shot slithered wide of Onstad's left post.
An apparent upper right leg injury sidelined the Quakes' Davis in the 56th minute, forcing the San Jose winger to make way for Brian Mullan.
No sooner had the Quakes weathered that blow when Colorado equalized in the 57th minute. A long through ball from Kyle Beckerman saw Peguero get a step on the Quakes' Danny Califf. The Colorado forward appeared to be offside, but the linesman's flag stayed down, and Peguero rode Califf's challenge long enough to slot the ball over Onstad for his fourth goal of the season.
Colorado nearly nosed in front in the 64th minute, when Cooke's far post cross was headed back across the face of goal by Petke, but Onstad got a vital touch that carried the ball past Cunningham and Peguero.
Opportunities were scarce thereafter, with the Quakes showing more of the initiative. But Colorado were able to limit San Jose to a series of half chances, earning themselves a valuable road point.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jean Philippe Peguero (Colorado Rapids)
Jeff Carlisle is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Colorado Rapids (7-11-4) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (10-4-8)
August 13, 2005 -- Spartan Stadium
SJ -- Ricardo Clark 2 (Dwayne De Rosario 9, Alejandro Moreno 4) 48
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero 4 (Kyle Beckerman 3) 57
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Hunter Freeman, Nat Borchers, Mike Petke, Ritchie Kotschau, Terry Cooke, Kyle Beckerman, Alain Nkong, Eric Denton, Jeff Cunningham, Jean Philippe Peguero.
Substitutes Not Used: Leo Cullen, Byron Foss, Luchi Gonzalez, Ricky Lewis, Guy Melamed.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Jean Philippe Peguero 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Jean Philippe Peguero 2); FOULS: 25 (Ritchie Kotschau 6, Jean Philippe Peguero 6); OFFSIDES: 2 (Jean Philippe Peguero 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Terry Cooke 2); SAVES: 2 (Joe Cannon 2)
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Kelly Gray, Danny Califf, Eddie Robinson, Wade Barrett, Mark Chung, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario, Brad Davis (Brian Mullan 56), Ronald Cerritos (Ian Russell 84), Alejandro Moreno.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Aloisi, Jon Conway, Julian Nash, Danny O'Rourke, Orlando Ramirez, Brett Rodriguez, Chris Wondolowski.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Ronald Cerritos 2, Dwayne De Rosario 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 17 (Eddie Robinson 5); OFFSIDES: 3 (Ronald Cerritos 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Mark Chung 2); SAVES: 3 (Pat Onstad 3)
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero (caution; Tackle from Behind) 27
SJ -- Brad Davis (caution; Pushing, Holding) 29
COL -- Terry Cooke (caution; Dissent) 37
COL -- Hunter Freeman (caution; Tackle from Behind) 79
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: -Fabio Tovar; David Bragg
4th Official: Richard Heron
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-68-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.