A late goal from Dwayne De Rosario allowed the San Jose Earthquakes to salvage a 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night in Denver, but the Rapids were left with the consolation that the draw was enough to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Jean-Philippe Peguero had given the Rapids the opener in the 14th minute, then late in the first half, Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon preserved the lead when he saved a Ronnie Ekelund penalty. But the Earthquakes tied the game eight minutes from the end when they took advantage of a quick restart after a Rapids substitution, and with the single point moved ahead of the Dallas Burn into sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference and the final playoff spot.
The Rapids dictated the tone of the match from the start, using their speed to create chances on the wings. They created a good chance in the ninth minute with a John Spencer pass found a streaking Chris Henderson along the right wing, but his low, hard shot was just to the left of goal.
The Rapids then took the lead through Peguero and similar circumstances. A quick give and go between Cila and Matt Crawford led to a low Crawford cross behind the Quakes defense. Peguero met the pass in the heart of the area and calmly slotted it past Onstad for his seventh goal of the season.
Henderson manufactured another excellent chance for the Rapids in the 29th minute, as his cross was headed hard on goal by Mark Chung, but Onstad was well positioned to make the save. The Rapids had another chance at a goal in the 40th minute as some fancy footwork from Peguero led to a left-footed shot that caromed off of a diving Onstad.
The best opportunity of the half for the Earthquakes came in the 45th minute. A long ball from Eddie Robinson found Landon Donovan open in the box, and the U.S. international drew a penalty kick as he was tripped by Cannon as he pushed the ball past the diving 'keeper. But Ekelund pushed his effort from the spot weakly to Cannon's left and it was easily saved.
After the break, Peguero looked to have his second goal in the 60th minute off a snap header from a Henderson cross that Onstad had no chance on, but he was ruled offside on the play.
The Quakes were having difficulty breaking down the Rapids defense as the match went on, but they nearly drew level in the 67th minute on a counterattack, but Troy Dayak's hard header went just over the bar.
But they snatched the unlikely leveler in the 82nd minute as Seth Trembly came racing on the field as a substitute for Jordan Cila. The Rapids appeared not to be set after the substitution, waiting for Trembly to take his spot on the left side, and San Jose took advantage as a Ryan Cochrane cross met a sliding De Rosario who poked the ball past Cannon and into the net.
Still, with the tie and the loss by the Dallas Burn to the New England Revolution, the Rapids clinched a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. They next will attempt to improve their playoff seed on Sat., Oct. 16 when they visit the East-leading Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m. ET). The Earthquakes look to maintain their playoff hopes when they play host to the Kansas City Wizards next Saturday (10 p.m. ET).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jean-Philippe Peguero (Colorado Rapids)
San Jose Earthquakes (9-10-8) vs. Colorado Rapids (10-9-9)
October 02, 2004 -- Invesco Field at Mile High
COL -- Jean Philippe Peguero 7 (Matt Crawford 4, Jordan Cila 2) 14
SJ -- Dwayne De Rosario 5 (Ryan Cochrane 1) 82
San Jose Earthquakes -- Pat Onstad, Eddie Robinson (Todd Dunivant 46), Ryan Cochrane, Troy Dayak, Jeff Agoos, Brian Mullan, Ronnie Ekelund (Ian Russell 67), Richard Mulrooney, Ramiro Corrales, Chris Brown (Dwayne De Rosario 46), Landon Donovan.
Substitutes Not Used: Jon Conway, Jamil Walker.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Ronnie Ekelund 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 16 (Ronnie Ekelund 4); OFFSIDES: 4 (Chris Brown 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Jeff Agoos 2); SAVES: 4 (Pat Onstad 4)
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Matt Crawford, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Ricky Lewis, Chris Henderson, Jordan Cila (Seth Trembly 82) (Alberto Delgado 89), Pablo Mastroeni, Mark Chung, Jean Philippe Peguero, John Spencer (Kyle Beckerman 58).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael Erush, Rey Angel Martinez, Daryl Powell, Gary Sullivan, Scott Vallow.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Jean Philippe Peguero 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Jean Philippe Peguero 2); FOULS: 21 (Chris Henderson 4); OFFSIDES: 8 (Jean Philippe Peguero 5); CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 2 (Joe Cannon 2)
SJ -- Eddie Robinson (caution; Reckless Foul) 24
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Reckless Foul) 25
SJ -- Troy Dayak (caution; Reckless Foul) 87
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: George Gansner; Nathan Clement
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-67-degrees
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial