After a slow start to their season, the Colorado Rapids have been quickly climbing up the Western Conference standings.
Their 1-0 win Saturday night against D.C. United at Invesco Field leaves them at 5-1-2 in their last eight games. With a game in hand, they are only four points behind the third place Los Angeles Galaxy and a comfortable 12 points ahead of fifth place Real Salt Lake.
"There was a time when we were looking back to see who was coming behind us," said coach Fernando Clavijo. "But now we're looking forward to see who we can catch up to."
The game was very chippy affair with 28 fouls, 5 yellow card cautions, and one red card ejection. Wing back Hunter Freeman, who earned his first assist on the game's lone goal, was the target of much of D.C.'s ire as Freddy Adu earned a yellow for a late tackle on him at midfield and Jaime Moreno earned the red card for tripping Freeman after play had been whistled dead.
"I don't think it was me [personally]," commented Freeman. "I think it was just that [D.C.] was frustrated with the way the game was going. We scored early, and then they missed some very good chances."
The Rapids feel that momentum is now firmly with them as the playoffs come into view.
"We have to just keep winning," said Freeman who earned his first assist on the game's lone goal by Terry Cooke. "We're on a roll, and we have our home-field advantage back.
"In the beginning of the year, people were coming in here when we had lost a few games and they were thinking that they could win here. But now we've had several wins against some quality competition."
Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.