Despite going into the locker room 2-0 up at halftime, Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith was not happy. If it hadn't been for the backpass mistake that led to Omar Cummings' second goal of the game on the cusp of intermission, Smith knew that D.C. United were forcing themselves back into the game.
"We were disappointing on the ball," Smith said. "We didn't create many chances in the first half. The difference was Omar -- his finishing was excellent."
Smith was also keen to point out the importance to the team of goalkeeper Matt Pickens, who pulled off what Smith called "an absolutely wonderful save" from a Christian Gomez free kick just a minute before Cummings pounced to score his and Colorado's second.
While keen to stress the overall work ethic of the whole team, Smith said it was those two individuals who had effectively won the game for the Rapids, who extended their unbeaten run to seven games and remain undefeated this season at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
"We were sloppy in parts of the the first half," said Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni. "In the second half, we came out sharp and, with another goal, the altitude can kick in for visiting teams."
A crucial five-minute span on either side of halftime, which saw the Cummings goal from the backpass error and a Colin Clark goal after great work by Cummings on the left-hand side, decided the game. The Rapids then effectively closed down D.C. and, minus a couple of good saves from Pickens in the Colorado goal, saw the rest of the game out with little drama.
Pickens' saves aside, the game was mainly about Cummings, who stepped up big time in the absence of leading goalscorer Conor Casey, who is on duty with the U.S. national team in South Africa. The Jamaican international, who before the previous game against Real Salt Lake admitted to a certain amount of frustration at not finding the net as often as he would like, has now scored three goals in the last two games.
"I just got the chances and I put them away," Cummings said. "The second one was a gimme but you still have to work for it and I may have made it a little more difficult for myself than I needed to."
Cummings did take the ball quite wide around D.C. goalkeeper Josh Wicks before calmly slamming it home.
"Omar was outstanding," Smith said. "He's improved enormously and he has a much better understanding of what is required of him when he doesn't have the ball -- he is thinking about his game."
Mastroeni was also quick to praise the striker. "We had good defensive posture tonight and, offensively, Omar was just brilliant," he said.
The Rapids will face FC Dallas at home on Wednesday before traveling to play Seattle June 28.
Nick Thomas is a contributor to MLSnet.com.