COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
On Thursday night, Rapids forward Omar Cummings scored his first-ever postseason goal to send the Columbus Crew packing and Colorado through to an Eastern Conference semifinal match against Sporting KC.
“That’s the [end of our] season if you don’t score, so I was not trying to concentrate on it too much,” Cummings said following the 1-0 win. “It’s playoff time and time to get some playoff goals.”
Cummings has been one of the top goal scorers for the Rapids in recent seasons, but 2011 has proved a trying year for the speedy Jamaican, who had scored just four goals in all competitions entering Thursday’s wild card match.
It was no surprise then that following his game-winning goal, Cummings sank to his knees to thank the higher powers – even if it also was a bit of an impersonation of Denver Broncos quarterback named Tim Tebow.
Rapids head coach Gary Smith said Cummings’ first-half goal was the perfect motivation to send his team into the locker room at halftime.
“For us, it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Smith said. “There’s no doubt about it that goals change the mindset of people and we came in at halftime feeling that we got some reward for our work. Now [the Crew] had to go and make something happen, and that’s not easy away from home.”
The idea all week had been for the Rapids' midfield and forward lines to play aggressively and put the visitors on their heels, hoping that Columbus would wilt in a difficult environment combining altitude and extreme cold.
“It was a more attacking lineup than usual,” Cummings said. “We’ve been talking about it all day, even all week. We have to do it, we have to get to the next stage, the next game. We gave it our all and we move on to the next stage.”
Smith said he hoped Cummings, who came off in the 68th minute, would push on from here and help boost the Rapids during the postseason.
“It’s great for Omar,” he said. “I hope it gives him a lift and it can push him on to better things in the next game. His movement was good, his energy was good.”
The Rapids – and Cummings – will have a chance to repeat the feat when Sporting Kansas City visit Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the first round of their two-leg Eastern Conference semifinal tilt on Sunday (7 pm ET; FOX Soccer, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com).