Two weeks ago, the Colorado Rapids had extended their winning streak to five thanks to a 2-0 victory against D.C. United. On Saturday, the defending MLS Cup champion returned the favor, defeating the Rapids 2-0 to send them to a second consecutive defeat on the road.
The Rapids fought admirably throughout the match, but were largely unable to produce consistent scoring chances. They didn't lie down, but were simply outplayed in the attacking third by D.C. in the final analysis.
Second-half goals from United's Christian Gomez and Jaime Moreno were all the home side needed to secure its 14th win of the year.
Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo knew the task at hand was daunting, up against a United team that leads the league in goals per game on its home soil, but saw his team's effort as a definite silver lining.
"We knew this game was going to be hard," he said, "and we made it a little harder on ourselves today. Overall (though), all the guys came up, worked hard and can't complain about that."
Clavijo was also optimistic about his squad's playoff position, given a generous home stretch to end the season, but clearly hoped for a better result tonight.
"This game was a very hard game for us," said the former U.S. international. "But I think everything looks good for us. We have six more games to go, and three of them are at home. We have a pretty good record but we have to come here and be able to do better than what we did tonight."
One obvious missing link in the sometimes porous Rapids defense was Nat Borchers, who was serving a suspension following a red card last week. Borchers had previously played in all 25 of Colorado's matches this season, the only player on the team to do so.
"We adjusted well," said Clavijo of filling the void left by Borchers' absence. "You have a guy who has been in every single lineup for every single minute that we play, and it's obvious we (had to make) some changes. We put Pablo (Mastroeni) back, who is a very quality player, but it is not his normal position and it was hard."
The Colorado rearguard also suffered a major blow when starting goalkeeper Joe Cannon exited the game midway through the second half. Cannon came into the match with a groin injury and apparently reaggravated it.
"The other team played hard; they executed a great free kick," Clavijo said. "You have to give them credit. We suffered some injuries but you have to give the credit to the team that played well."
Clavijo refused to view the loss as an indicator of his team potentially taking a detour for the worse, at a critical late-season juncture.
"I think we played hard (tonight)," he said. "We didn't come out with the points. When you play D.C., you know it is going to be hard. It was hard when we played them at home (two weeks ago), and we beat them."
Omar Garriott is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.