LA PORTE, Texas - The Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake tied 2-2 today in an exhibition match played at La Porte High School Stadium, in La Porte, Texas. The two sides, which will be battling for the inaugural Rocky Mountain Cup in 2005, have 14 days before the 10th Major League Soccer season kicks off.
The first goal of the night came in the 3rd minute, when Colorado Rapids defender Eric Denton bent a freekick over the defensive wall and into the back of Real Salt Lake goalkeeper DJ Countess' net. The 30-yard shot cleared the four-man wall and found its way into the goal through the upper left corner, despite Countess' full body dive.
It was Jean Philippe Peguero who had the second scoring opportunity of the game in the 7th minute, when a through ball from Alain Nkong left him on a one-on-one run against Countess who came off his line and made the diving save on the Haitian's shot. Peguero had to leave the game a couple of minutes later after rolling his ankle during another scoring opportunity in the 16th minute.
Only one minute later, a quick combination between midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Chris Henderson sent a through ball into the open space for Colorado. Henderson followed the give-and-go bringing the ball all the way to the end line before sending an out swinging cross into the heart of Real's penalty area. Forward Jeff Cunningham, who had followed the play since the beginning, buried the cross into Salt Lake's goal with a spectacular first time shot.
Goalkeeper Byron Foss came up big for the Rapids on three occasions. The first one in the 26th minute when he made a diving save on Jamaican International, Andy Williams. The 6-5 goalkeeper was quick to go down and deflect a powerful low shot from Williams from 10-yards.
Foss was called upon again in the 36th minute, when he handled the second scoring opportunity for Real Salt Lake. Forward Jason Kreis took a 35-yard freekick that bounced right in front of the Rapids goal. Foss timed the shot perfectly, and despite the wet grass conditions was able to push the quick bouncing ball out of danger.
Four minutes later it was another spectacular save from Foss that kept the Rapids in the lead. Real's forward Dipsy Selolwane took advantage of a misstep by defender Amir Lowery who fell to the ground leaving the Botswana native running with the ball into the Rapids penalty area. Selolwane's powerful shot was saved by Foss, whose left hand deflected the ball to the left post before rebounding back into the keeper's hands.
Jason Kreis scored the first goal for Real in the 54th minute, when he found a loose ball at the top of the Rapids penalty area and surprised Foss with an accurate shot. Selolwane had close range shot that was initially blocked by Denton, but the rebound landed in Kreis' path. The MLS All Time Leading Goalscorer finished the play with a powerful left shot to the lower right corner of Foss' goal.
Substitute forward Wolde Harris had a golden opportunity to score the third goal for the Rapids in the 63rd minute, when a through ball from Dan Gargan left the Jamaican forward running towards Real's goal. Harris beat his defender to the ball, but his powerful shot was stopped by Countess, who had come out of his line to close the shooting angle.
Kreis evened the scoring in the 70th minute, when he headed a cross from Williams past Foss. The accurate cross from the Jamaican midfielder found Kreis running towards the penalty spot. The former FC Dallas striker placed his powerful header to the lower left corner of the Rapids goal.
Five Rapids players missed today's exhibition game due to U.S. National Team duty. Defenders Nat Borchers and Ritchie Kotschau, midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, and goalkeeper Joe Cannon are all with the U.S. Men's National Team, while defender Hunter Freeman is with the U.S. Under-20 team in Korea.
The Rapids will remain in the Lone Star State for the next seven days and will take on FC Dallas in the club's last preseason game on Saturday, March 26th in Austin, TX.
Rapids Lineups- Foss, Denton, Lowery, Cullen, Gargan, Henderson(Morales 46'), Beckerman, Nkong, Cooke(Guillaume 72'), Peguero(Gonzalez 16'), Cunningham(Harris 59')
COL- Denton(Unassisted 3'); Cunningham(Henderson, Beckerman 8')
RSL- Kreis(Unassisted 54'); Kreis(Williams 70')