D.C. United fell to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night in the Mile High City, a Terry Cooke goal in the first half proving to be enough for the home side. Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon kept the Black-and-Red off the scoreboard with several spectacular saves. D.C. was forced to play the final 25 minutes without MLS leading scorer Jaime Moreno, who received his second red card of the season for a deliberate foul.
The winning goal, in the 22nd minute, was the result of some excellent Rapids passing. Hunter Freeman played a long ball down the left that left Jean Philippe Peguero storming in one-on-one with D.C. 'keeper Nick Rimando. Just as Rimando dove to block the expected shot, Peguero cut the ball back to the top right of the box where Cooke pounded the ball into the net for his second goal of the season.
Colorado is now unbeaten in its last five games. The win gives the Rapids 31 points, and keeps them in the hunt for third place in the Western Conference, four points behind the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The first 10 minutes of the match featured mostly a series of fouls as both teams struggled to settle into a rhythm.
Peguero had the first good scoring chance in the 12th minute, heading a Luchi Gonzalez cross just wide of the post.
D.C. didn't really threaten until the 41st minute. Ben Olsen received a pass in the goal box and, finding his way blocked by Cannon, then passed a dangerous ball across the face of the box that went just behind an onrushing Dema Kovalenko.
D.C. United captain Moreno had the last chance of the first half, capping a scintillating dribbling display with a weak shot that was right at Cannon.
Moreno began the second half where he left off in the first, heading a Freddy Adu cross onto goal. Cannon did well to push the bouncing header around his post.
Bryan Namoff showcased his speed on the wing all night, winning corners and pining in crosses. A quick run to the end line in the 48th minute looked dangerous, but a sliding Ritchie Kotschau was able to block Namoff's cross out for a corner. D.C., however, sent yet another poor cross into the box that Colorado easily cleared.
United had another golden chance in the 52nd minute. A quick Moreno pass found Christian Gomez wide open in the box. His shot to the far corner went too far, and as Cannon set up for a goal kick Gomez pounded the ground in justified frustration over missing a golden opportunity.
A good night of soccer ended early for Moreno in the 65th minute. After Freeman was called for a push on Moreno, Moreno tripped Freemen well after the whistle and right in front of referee Baldomero Toledo. He wasted no time in pulling out the red card and dismissing an incredulous Moreno from the game.
United seemed to grow more and more disjointed on offense in the waning minutes, and Colorado was content to simply kill the clock.
Late sub Fabrice Noel did inject some energy into the game in the 87th minute, dribbling past two United defenders and cracking a shot that Nick Rimando had to sprawl out to save.
D.C. had one final chance in the 90th minute. Kovalenko dribbled through the defense down to the end line, but his crossing pass was kick-saved by Cannon. The rebound went straight to substitute Matt Nickell, but Cannon was able to quickly smother his shot as well.
The Rapids nearly put it out of reach in extra time. Cooke volleyed a Cannon punt to David Ben Dayan who dribbled past Bobby Boswell and into the box. His shot seemed headed straight to goal, but Rimando skied to tip the ball just over the bar.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Joe Cannon
Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.