Crew attack stymied by Rapid defense

The Colorado Rapids saw goals come early in each half as they posted their first victory of 2005, defeating the Columbus Crew 2-0 on Saturday night.

Pablo Mastroeni scored in the second minute to get the Rapids off to an early start, then Luchi Gonzalez scored his first MLS goal in the 57th minute as the Rapids sent the Crew to their second defeat in as many road matches this season.

The Rapids got on the board early. Gonzalez's cross appeared to have overrun the box, but Chris Henderson was able to get wide to head the ball back for an onrushing Mastroeni. Mastroeni's volley skipped into the far corner past Crew 'keeper Jon Busch for his first goal with the Rapids.

The home side then nearly doubled their lead through a break on the right flank in the 11th minute, where they found success much of the night. Gonzalez fired a hard shot from the top of the box, but Busch was well placed for the save.

Although the Crew saw most of the possession in the half, the Rapids had the better of the attacking opportunities, many on quick breaks. But they were also whistled for offside on four times in the half.

Terry Cooke was very active along the right for the Rapids, and figured in two quick scoring chances in succession. In the 16th minute he sent a low driven ball that dangerously skipped across the box that Henderson just missed turning on goal, then a minute later his mis-hit volley was easily saved by Busch.

Immediately after that flurry of Rapids attacks, the Crew had their best chance of the half, as Edson Buddle sent a skipping ball across the face of the goal. Both Frankie Hejduk and Hunter Freeman slid to meet it, and the Rapids defender was just able to clear the ball before Hejduk could shoot.

The Crew also went close after the match settled down, after winning a free kick in a dangerous area, but Ante Razov put his shot over the bar. Just after, Mark Chung nearly doubled the Rapids lead on the counterattack, but Chad Marshall was able to alter his shot which allowed Busch to make an easy save.

Columbus nearly leveled terms right after the kickoff to start the second half, as several Crew attackers were open in the box from a cross, but Hejduk was unable to cleanly meet it and his effort went harmlessly over the bar.

The Rapids then grabbed their second in the 57th minute with Henderson again at the center. Deep along the left flank he volleyed a Robin Fraser cross directly to the head of an unmarked Gonzalez, who found the back of the net of his first professional goal.

He then almost doubled his MLS goal total in the 65th minute. A long ball from Ritchie Kotschau found Gonzalez all alone on a perfectly timed run through the Crew defense and he was able to round Busch and get a shot off toward the open goal before he was tripped up, but fullback Robin Fraser showed great hustle to get back and clear the ball off the line.

A late hard tackle on Jean-Philippe Peguero in the 77th minute earned Crew winger Mario Rodriguez a red card and a quick end to the Guatemalan international's first-ever MLS game. Man of the Match: Chris Henderson (Colorado Rapids)

Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

Columbus Crew (2-2-0) vs. Colorado Rapids (1-2-1)
April 23, 2005 -- Invesco Field at Mile High

Scoring Summary:
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni 1 (Chris Henderson 2, Luchi Gonzalez 1) 2
COL -- Luchi Gonzalez 1 (Chris Henderson 3) 57

Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Ryan Kelly (Chris Wingert 61), Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Mario Rodriguez, Simon Elliott, Kyle Martino (Devin Barclay 71), Danny Szetela, Frankie Hejduk, Edson Buddle, Ante Razov.

Substitutes Not Used: Matt Jordan, Manny Lagos, Mark Schulte.

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Edson Buddle 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Edson Buddle 1); FOULS: 20 (Mario Rodriguez 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Simon Elliott 2, Ante Razov 2); SAVES: 4 (Jon Busch 3)

Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Hunter Freeman, Chris Henderson, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Eric Denton, Terry Cooke (Leo Cullen 78), Pablo Mastroeni, Alain Nkong (Jean Philippe Peguero 62), Mark Chung, Luchi Gonzalez.

Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Beckerman, Jeff Cunningham, Byron Foss, Sasha Gotsmanov, Wolde Harris, Amir Lowery, Guy Melamed.

TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Luchi Gonzalez 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Luchi Gonzalez 3); FOULS: 12 (Pablo Mastroeni 4); OFFSIDES: 5 (Luchi Gonzalez 3); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Mark Chung 3, Terry Cooke 3); SAVES: 1 (Joe Cannon 1)

Misconduct Summary:
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Professional Foul) 38
CLB -- Mario Rodriguez (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 75

Referee: Erich Simmons
Referee's Assistants: -Fabio Tovar; Jose Corro
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Attendance: 10,165
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Clear-and-69-degrees

All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.