In a clash of teams hoping to move up in the congested Western Conference standings, the Colorado Rapids defeated the Dallas Burn 2-1 at Inveco Field at Mile High Saturday night.
The winning goal came in the 85th minute as a wide-open Nat Borchers headed Antonio de la Torre's corner kick past Dallas goalkeeper Jeff Cassar into the net.
In the beginning of the first half, the Rapids controlled the flow of the game through their swift attacks on the wing. They had the first real scoring chance of the game in the eighth minute when Chris Henderson headed a Pedro Peguero cross just wide of the post. The Rapids had another dangerous header in the 10th minute as John Spencer directed De la Torre's cross over the crossbar.
The Rapids were also effective in the beginning of the game at shutting down the Burn attack. Playing Pablo Mastroeni and Kyle Beckerman as twin defensive midfielders effectively clogged the middle, and Ritchie Kotschau and Borchers quickly shut down any attacks that made it through to the forward tandem of Tony Nhleko and Eddie Johnson. In fact, the Burn's first shot on goal did not come until the 16th minute, as Eric Quill's effort from the top of the box was easily saved by Joe Cannon.
The Rapids weathered the storm, and began to control the game again in the middle of the first half. Spencer, recovering from a hamstring injury, had another great chance on goal in the 20th minute when he ran on to a ball sent over the top, but Carrey Talley recovered in time to disrupt Spencer's shot so that it went harmlessly over the end line.
In the 26th minute Cassar made two great saves on Jean-Phillipe Peguero, coming out of the goal mouth both times to smother the ball before Peguero could get a shot off.
Peguero had yet another chance on goal after a quick give-and-go between Mastroeni and Beckerman led to a cross into the area. Pegureo's header, however, went straight at Cassar.
The Burn struck first in the 43rd minute. Ronnie O'Brien was left unmarked with the ball on the right flank, and his cross found defender Matt Behnke charging past the defenders into the goal box. Behnke's first-time volley rocketed into the Colorado net, ending Cannon's 534-minute shutout streak.
During halftime, the Rapids substituted Jordan Cila into the midfield for Beckerman. Mark Chung, who had been playing on the right flank, pinched more into the middle, while Cila played more on the right but drifted frequently into the middle.
The Rapids tied the game in the 52nd minute. Peguero's cross was misheaded by Behnke straight to John Spencer at the left side of the goal box. Spencer volleyed the ball past Cassar to tie the game.
Peguero, who had created several scoring opportunites for the Rapids throughout the night, had an opportunity of his own in the 55th minute. His quick effort from the top right of the box beat Cassar, but glanced off the post for a goal kick. The Rapids maintained possession after the kick, and Henderson's effort from the top right of the box sailed wide.
The Burn had another good chance in the eighty-second minute as Chris Gbandi sprinted past De La Torre into the box, but his left-footed shot went wide of the goal. Cannon, like he has all season for the Rapids, came up with a big save, punching away a cross before Johnson could get a head to it.
Directly after the restart for Borchers' goal, the Rapids nearly scored again, when Spencer was sprung free in the box, but his quick shot went to the left of the goal.
In stoppage time, the Burn tried valiantly to tie the game as Jason Kreis' centering volley fell to Bobby Rhine, but Matt Crawford was able to deflect the ball out for a corner. Soon after the game ended, with the Rapids earning three valuable points to move into second place in the Western Conference.
The Rapids have a chance to move into first place in the West if they can beat the Kansas City Wizards on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET) in Denver. Dallas will try to regroup next Saturday against D.C. United (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2) at RFK Stadium.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Nat Borchers (Colorado Rapids)
Dallas Burn (9-10-5) vs. Colorado Rapids (9-7-9)
September 04, 2004 -- Invesco Field at Mile High
DAL -- Matt Behncke 1 (Ronnie O'Brien 10, Oscar Pareja 5) 43
COL -- John Spencer 4 (Jean Philippe Peguero 3) 52
COL -- Nat Borchers 2 (Antonio de la Torre 5) 85
Dallas Burn -- Jeff Cassar, Steve Jolley, Matt Behncke, Chris Gbandi, Eric Quill (Brad Davis 80), Oscar Pareja (Bobby Rhine 72), Simo Valakari, Carey Talley, Toni Nhleko (Jason Kreis 84), Eddie Johnson, Ronnie O'Brien.
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Garlick, Clarence Goodson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 21 (Toni Nhleko 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Toni Nhleko 2); FOULS: 11 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 4 (Eddie Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Ronnie O'Brien 3); SAVES: 6 (Jeff Cassar 5)
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford, Chris Henderson, Kyle Beckerman (Jordan Cila 46), Pablo Mastroeni (Gary Sullivan 83), Mark Chung, Jean Philippe Peguero, John Spencer (Seth Trembly 87).
Substitutes Not Used: Alberto Delgado, Joey DiGiamarino, Michael Erush, Ricky Lewis, Rey Angel Martinez, Scott Vallow.
TOTAL SHOTS: 25 (John Spencer 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Jean Philippe Peguero 2, John Spencer 2); FOULS: 12 (Jean Philippe Peguero 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 9 (Antonio de la Torre 6); SAVES: 7 (Joe Cannon 6)
DAL -- Bobby Rhine (caution; Tackle from Behind) 72
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee's Assistants: -Nathan Clement; Steven Taylor
4th Official: Scott McCaslin
Time of Game: 1:49
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.