The defending MLS champions hit the road for the first time in 2011, as the Colorado Rapids make the trek to The Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA. The Rapids began defense of their title in a 3-1 home defeat of the expansion Portland Timbers. Chivas USA remain at home for a second consecutive week, falling 3-2 to Sporting Kansas City in their season opener.
REFEREE: Terry Vaughn. SAR (bench): Eric Boria; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Landis Wiley
MLS Career: 137 games; FC/gm: 28.6; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 45; pens: 44
INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA – OUT: MF Paulo Nagamura (L calf strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Simon Elliott (R knee sprain) … COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: OUT: FW Andre Akpan (L hamstring strain) …
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHV: Michael Umana (Costa Rica); Andrew Boyens (New Zealand); Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela); Zarek Valentin (U.S. U-20s) ... COL: Sanna Nyassi (The Gambia); Omar Cummings (Jamaica)
ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Rapids 8 wins, 29 goals … Chivas USA 5 wins, 22 goals … Ties 4 AT CHIVAS USA (9 meetings): Rapids 5 wins, 13 goals … Chivas USA 4 wins, 13 goals … Ties 0
RETURN MATCH: 8/20: Colorado Rapids vs. Chivas USA, 7 p.m. MT
LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/26: CHV 0, COL 1 (Cummings 55)
9/4: COL 3, CHV 0 (Casey 52; Cummings 68, 81)
- The Rapids have recorded three consecutive shutout victories against Chivas USA, outscoring them 8-0. Chivas USA has not scored against Colorado in 301 minutes, since winning the 2009 season opener 2-1 at The Home Depot Center.
- The Rapids have won in three of their last four games in Carson against Chivas USA, dating back to the second meeting there in 2007.
- The teams split their season series in 2008, though, each winning 2-1 on the other’s home ground.
- Coaches record: Robin Fraser v COL: first game … Gary Smith vs. CHV: P5 W4 L1 D0
Chivas USA opened their 2011 campaign with a loss at home, falling 3-2 to Sporting Kansas City at The Home Depot Center.
- Rookie C.J. Sapong put Sporting into the lead after just two minutes, winning a cleared corner floated back into the box and pouncing on the loose ball. Omar Bravo then doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time, coolly chipping a curling pass over goalkeeper Zach Thornton from the top of the box.
- [inline_node:331789]Chivas USA pulled a goal back in the 55th minute when Jimmy Conrad potted from close range from a corner kick scramble. But Bravo hit for his second in the 74th minute, racing onto a return 1-2 header from Kei Kamara and coolly slotting home.
- Ben Zemanski finished the scoreline in the 84th minute when another corner was cleared and then played back into the goalmouth where the second-year midfielder turned it home.
- Just one player (Ante Jazic) was in the Chivas USA starting XI from the group that started the 2010 season.
- CHIVAS USA (4-1-4-1): Zach Thornton - Heath Pearce, Zarek Valentin, Jimmy Conrad, Ante Jazic (Victor Estupinan 86) - Ben Zemanski - Marcos Mondaini (Tristan Bowen 70) - Nick LaBrocca, Francisco Mendoza (Blair Gavin 62), Justin Braun - Alejandro Moreno.
- While Chivas USA came back from the early deficit, once again they were not able to fully overturn the scoreline. A season ago, Chivas USA were 0-17-3 when allowing the first goal, the only MLS team not to win after conceding first.
- [inline_node:327671]"What I just got through telling them is when you concentrate fully for 90 minutes, it's very different than if you concentrate fully for 87 minutes and have a minute lapse here and minute lapse there," Fraser said. "Really, at the highest levels that's just the way it is.
- Jimmy Conrad scored in his debut with Chivas USA – the goal coming against his former club. Conrad, whose goal came in front of a group of more than 200 family and friends, came after spending eight seasons in Kansas City from 2003-2010.
- "We shot ourselves in the foot," Conrad said to the Daily Breeze. "If we eliminate individual mistakes, we're talking about a pretty good performance by a brand-new Chivas team."
- Marcos Mondaini provided much of the attacking thrust from a wide role with Fraser setting out his team with a lone spearhead striker in Alejandro Moreno.
- “He's good at creating space, pulling off of guys,” Conrad said of Mondaini to ESPN.com. “I think that proved difficult for [Sporting]. They really didn't know how to handle him. … I think as we understand him more, it's just going to make our team better."
- The other wide midfield role was filled by Justin Braun. “His nose for the goal made him almost dangerous. You can't be satisfied with being almost dangerous. And I think that pretty much goes for our whole team,”said Fraser to ESPN.com.
- Fraser started rookie Zarek Valentin alongside Conrad in central defense.
- “The physicality is a lot different than college and what I wasn't used to,” said Valentin, who at 5-foot-11, 160 pounds is small for a center back. “I know I have to bring 110 percent in especially that aspect every game. I knew they were going to battle from the first minute, so I tried to match that to the best of my ability.”
- Valentin will be one of four internationals out for the Colorado match, after joining the U.S. U-20 national team in preparation for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
The Colorado Rapids opened defense of their MLS title in style, scoring three first-half goals on their way to a 3-1 win against the Portland Timbers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
- [inline_node:331457]The Rapids took the lead after just eight minutes, when Omar Cummings’ crossing pass from along the right endline took a deflection and was hammered home by Jeff Larentowicz. Cummings then doubled the lead in the 29th minute when he raced onto a flicked header from Conor Casey and finally knocked a second-chance effort after Portland goalkeeper Adin Brown saved his solo attempt.
- Jamie Smith made it 3-0 barely a minute later, thumping home a drive from long range. Kenny Cooper scored the first goal in Timbers MLS history, driving home a low free kick 10 minutes from time.
- Rapids head coach Gary Smith ran out the same starting XI that defeated FC Dallas to win MLS Cup 2010 at BMO Field last November.
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens – Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace - Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 88), Pablo Mastroeni (Sanna Nyassi 77), Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith - Omar Cummings, Conor Casey (Quincy Amarikwa 61).
- Colorado’s Omar Cummings became the first player in MLS history to score in four consecutive season openers, netting the Rapids’ second goal in their 3-1 win against Portland.
- It’s a rarity for an MLS Cup champion to maintain the same winning group from one season to the next, but Smith was able to keep all 11 Cup Final starters, especially after regaining Anthony Wallace in a trade with the Timbers after he was selected in the MLS expansion draft.
- "Early in a season, it's important to find that rhythm," Smith said. "Are they at the same level they were at in the Cup final? No. But we'll improve. … "We'll continue to play the way we do with the team we have. We have enough quality in our group to open some tight doors this season."
- [inline_node:331423]The weekend before, in the preseason finale, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz suffered a fractured thumb. He battled a sore hamstring in the buildup to the season opener – then on Wednesday before the match, was involved in an automobile accident. But all that was put aside when he scored the opening goal.
- “It was good,” Larentowicz said. “I wanted to put Wednesday behind me and move on. The thumb thing will stick with me for a little while. It hurts, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with.”
- After netting what Timbers coach John Spencer called a “world class” goal, Jamie Smith finished his night in central midfield with the 77th minute departure of Pablo Mastroeni and nearly scored a second.
- “I’ve played there before and when you play central, you’re obviously always more involved,” Smith said. “It’s a position I am comfortable playing and I enjoyed it. Jeff [Larentowicz] and Pablo are, for me, the two best central midfielders in the league and it’s no problem for me to fill in for either of them.”
- The Rapids nearly kept a clean sheet until Kenny Cooper’s free kick strike settled into the back of the net,
- “That front two were lively, they are a threat,” Smith said. “Drew (Moor) and Marv (Wynne), the middle two in general, were terrific. They kept an exciting pairing quiet. I was pleased to hear the final whistle and delighted to have the three points.”