SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Omar Cummings and Sanna Nyassi have proven over the last month that the Colorado Rapids don’t need Conor Casey to succeed.
Saturday night, Caleb Folan and Jeff Larentowicz proved that the Rapids can do just fine without Cummings and Nyassi in the starting lineup as well.
Folan converted his second penalty of the year and Larentowicz scored off a set piece as the Rapids delivered a 2-1 kidney punch to the San Jose Earthquakes’ dwindling playoff hopes.
The Rapids extended their unbeaten streak to five consecutive matches, capitalizing on an 11-on-10 advantage for the final 40 minutes after the ejection of San Jose’s Sam Cronin.
Larentowicz got the winner in the 72nd minute, walking onto a stationary ball that had been touched dead off a short free kick. Larentowicz’s low, driven shot from 25 yards skipped through the legs of San Jose midfielder Simon Dawkins and off the hand of goalkeeper Jon Busch before reaching the net.
Folan had brought Colorado even in the 39th minute when Cronin was whistled for a handball after his arm deflected a cross from Colorado captain Pablo Mastroeni.
Despite Joey Gjertsen’s opening goal in the 22nd minute, San Jose saw its franchise-record winless streak reach 11 straight games.
Gjertsen put San Jose up early when he used a wide-open header to clean up the rebound of Chris Wondolowski’s deflected shot. Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens did a great job to parry a left-footed stab by Wondolowski, but Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura allowed Gjertsen to perch unmarked at the back post, where he tallied his first goal since May 8, 2010.
Colorado recovered before the halftime whistle, with Mastroeni forcing the action by tracking down Larentowicz’s lead pass along the right wing. Mastroeni cut a low cross over from the end line, and the ball caught the trailing left arm of a sliding Cronin.
Referee Paul Ward, after consultation with assistant Philippe Briere, awarded Colorado a penalty kick. Folan, who scored from the spot July 23 against New England, converted again, driving the ball to his right while Busch went the other way.
It was the fourth time during the Quakes’ winless streak - which dates back to June 11 - that they’ve failed to hold onto a lead. And San Jose’s chances weren’t enhanced when Cronin saw straight red in the 50th minute for a two-footed tackle on Mastroeni.
San Jose almost went back in front despite Cronin’s absence when Gjertsen threaded a low pass to Wondolowski at the edge of the six-yard box in the 55th minute. But Wondolowski, San Jose’s leading scorer and the league’s Golden Boot winner in 2010, popped his shot over the crossbar.
Colorado’s first solid chance with the man advantage came in the 66th minute. Larentowicz delivered a solid header on Wells Thompson’s corner kick, but San Jose’s Brad Ring, guarding the near post, headed the ball off the end line.
Ring couldn’t do anything about Larentowicz’s next chance, however, on his free kick just six minutes later.
Colorado opened the match without Cummings and Nyassi after the pair flew halfway around the world for international friendlies.
Nyassi, who went to his home country, The Gambia, to face the Democratic Republic of the Congo, did not travel to the Bay Area at all. Cummings, who joined the Rapids in San Jose after traveling to China with the Jamaican national team, was on the 18-man roster but did not come on until the 60th minute.
The Rapids (10-6-10, 40 points) stay in fourth place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference while San Jose (5-9-10, 25 points) remain just one spot off the bottom in eighth.
SJ -- Joey Gjertsen 1 (unassisted) 22
COL -- Caleb Folan 5 (penalty kick) 39
COL -- Jeff Larentowicz 5 (Wells Thompson 3, Pablo Mastroeni 3) 72
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Ross LaBauex (Omar Cummings 60), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 89), Wells Thompson, Caleb Folan (Macoumba Kandji 83).
Substitutes Not Used: Andre Akpan, Mike Holody, Scott Palguta, Steward Ceus.
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour (Jacob Peterson 89), Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Ramiro Corrales, Joey Gjertsen (Ellis McLoughlin 83), Sam Cronin, Brad Ring (Simon Dawkins 70), Bobby Convey, Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Justin Morrow, David Bingham.
SJ -- Khari Stephenson (caution; Reckless Tackle) 15
COL -- Wells Thompson (caution; Dissent) 25
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski (caution; Reckless Tackle) 36
SJ -- Sam Cronin (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 50
COL -- Jeff Larentowicz (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 55
COL -- Drew Moor (caution; Reckless Foul) 79
COL -- Caleb Folan (caution; Reckless Foul) 81
Referee: Paul Ward
Referee's Assistants: Darren Clark; Philippe Briere
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Time of Game: 1:55
Weather: Clear and 74 degrees