Another game-winning goal from Jordan Cila and another game-saving save from Joe Cannon powered the Colorado Rapids to a 3-1 win over the Kansas City Wizards and into first place in the Western Conference on a rainy Friday night in Denver.
The winning goal came in the 60th minute. A chipped cross from Chris Henderson fell to Cila who was wide open at the left corner of the goal box. Cila had time to trap the ball and place it into the right corner of the net past the outstretched arms of goalie Bo Oshoniyi.
The Rapids, with the victory, leap to the top of the Western Conference table with 39 points. The Wizards slip to second place, one point back of Colorado with 38 points. Los Angeles (35 pts.) and San Jose (34 pts.), two teams who play one another Saturday, trail close behind in third and fourth place, respectively.
The game began with a bang as the Rapids thought they had the early lead when Jean Philippe Peguero powerfully headed a cross into the Wizards net in the fourth minute. He was ruled offside, however.
In the beginning of the game both teams' offensive strategies consisted mostly of sending long balls from the back. In the 8th minute the Wizards finally strung a few passes together which resulted in a hard Josh Wolff shot that Cannon was able to safely parry away.
The Wizard's goal came on their first scoring chance of the game. A long ball from the back fell in no man's land between Wolff and Cannon in the 10th minute. Cannon hesitated on his run for the ball, which allowed Wolff to get it first. Wolff's first touch went around Cannon, but Wolff himself was bowled over by the Rapids' goalkeeper and referee Michael Kennedy wasted no time in pointing to the penalty spot. Cannon guessed the correct direction on the penalty kick, but Wolff was able to power it past him for his ninth goal of the season and career-high 24th point.
The midfield battle was especially heated, with several hard challenges from Kansas City's Kerry Zavagnin and Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni leading to free kicks awarded by Kennedy. Mastroeni disagreed so vehemently with one such call in the 18th minute that he was issued a yellow card for dissent.
The Rapids earned a chance to tie the game in the 24th minute when Peguero was hip checked in the box by Shavar Thomas. Mark Chung buried the subsequent penalty kick to knot the match at 1.
Chung's goal seemed to energize the Rapid's offense. In the 25th minute a hard Cila header off of a Chris Henderson cross looked headed to goal, but Oshoniyi was able to make the stop.
Peguero had a second goal called back for offside in the 40th minute. His off balance chip came after some excellent dribbling through the middle by Cila. Defender Jimmy Conrad was given a yellow for a hard tackle on John Spencer earlier in the play. Soon after, Cannon made a timely save for the Rapids on a hard Davy Arnaud shot that was set up nicely by forward Matt Taylor.
The Wizards continued to try to create offense in the second half through the quickness of their forwards. One such break led to a yellow card for the Rapid's Antonio de la Torre in the 52nd minute. De la Torre knocked down Arnaud who was beginning to outpace the Rapids defender.
Just as in the second half against Dallas a week earlier, the Rapids overloaded the center of midfield and the left flank, and much of the final half was played only along one side of the field.
Only Oshoniyi's heroics saved the Wizards from falling even farther behind in the 67th minute as he blocked a screaming volley from Spencer that looked destined for the left corner of the goal.
Like he has all season, Cannon made a game-saving save for the Rapids in the 75th minute. Second-half substitute Igor Simutenkov's cross went straight to Josh Wolff, but his volley was expertly parried by Cannon.
The Rapids made wholesale changes in the 80th minute as Seth Trembly came in for Cila and Ricky Lewis, making his Rapids debut, came in for De la Torre.
The third penalty kick of the game came right after the substitutions when Wolff fell in the box after another Cannon challenge. This time, however, Cannon was able to make the save on Wolff's kick from the spot, diving right and low to the ground and blocking the kick.
The Wizards made another substitution in the eighty-fifth minute, bringing in Diego Walsh for Taylor Graham. The Rapids, in turn, made their final substitution in the 87th minute, taking out Spencer for midfielder Kyle Beckerman.
The Rapids' final goal came in stoppage time as Trembly's cross found Beckerman at the top of the box. Beckerman had time to settle the ball and line up his shot, which unerringly found the upper right corner of the net. The goal was Beckerman's first of the season and first goal in MLS since 2000.
On Sept. 18, the Rapids head to New England for a match up against the Revolution at 7:30 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium. Kansas City's next MLS match is also on the same day. They will host the San Jose Earthquakes (8:30 p.m. ET) in a Western Conference clash.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids)
Kansas City Wizards (11-8-5) vs. Colorado Rapids (9-7-9)
September 10, 2004 -- Invesco Field at Mile High
KC -- Josh Wolfff 9 (penalty kick) 11
COL -- Mark Chung 3 (penalty kick) 24
COL -- Jordan Cila 4 (Chris Henderson 4, John Spencer 1) 60
COL -- Kyle Beckerman 1 (Seth Trembly 1, Jean Philippe Peguero 4) 92+
Kansas City Wizards -- Bo Oshoniyi, Jose Burciaga Jr., Jimmy Conrad, Shavar Thomas (Francisco Gomez 46), Taylor Graham (Diego Walsh 85), Diego Gutierrez, Kerry Zavagnin, Nick Garcia, Davy Arnaud, Matt Taylor (Igor Simutenkov 65), Josh Wolff.
Substitutes Not Used: Justin Detter, Will Hesmer.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Davy Arnaud 4, Josh Wolfff 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Josh Wolfff 4); FOULS: 13 (Davy Arnaud 3, Jose Burciaga Jr. 3); OFFSIDES: 5 (Josh Wolfff 4); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Jose Burciaga Jr. 1); SAVES: 9 (Bo Oshoniyi 9)
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Antonio de la Torre (Ricky Lewis 80), Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford, Chris Henderson, Jordan Cila (Seth Trembly 80), Pablo Mastroeni, Mark Chung, Jean Philippe Peguero, John Spencer (Kyle Beckerman 87).
Substitutes Not Used: Alberto Delgado, Joey DiGiamarino, Michael Erush, Rey Angel Martinez, Gary Sullivan, Scott Vallow.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Mark Chung 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 12 (Jordan Cila 3); FOULS: 21 (Jean Philippe Peguero 6); OFFSIDES: 5 (Jean Philippe Peguero 5); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Matt Crawford 1, Antonio de la Torre 1); SAVES: 5 (Joe Cannon 4)
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Dissent) 18
KC -- Jimmy Conrad (caution; Reckless Foul) 42
COL -- Antonio de la Torre (caution; Dissent) 52
Referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: -Robert Fereday; David Bragg
4th Official: Hector Tobon
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-75-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.