COMMERCE CITY, Colo.-- It was a tale of two teams headed in two vastly different directions on Saturday night.
The Colorado Rapids’ 2-0 win over Chivas USA at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park extended their unbeaten streak to six games, while the goats slipped to their sixth loss in seven games thanks to Atiba Harris’ early goal and Nathan Sturgis’ second half insurance finish.
The home side dominated the contest from start to finish, controlling the wide majority of chances and the tempo of the match from the first whistle.
With the victory (their third in their last five games), the Rapids moved into fourth place in the West, while Chivas fell deeper into the Western Conference basement, stuck on 11 points for the fourth consecutive match.
On a clear and breezy night in Commerce City, it didn’t take long for the Rapids to begin prying the Chivas back line. Two minutes in, Deshorn Brown’s cross into the box found Harris open in front of net, but the veteran midfielder pushed his header wide of Dan Kennedy’s goal.
But nine minutes later Harris delivered. Following a string of one-touch passes, left back Chris Klute’s pinpoint cross into the box connected with a sliding Harris, who slotted past a helpless Kennedy for the quick 1-0 lead.
Colorado controlled the majority of the chances for the rest of the half, with Brown’s 28th minute header just over the crossbar highlighting a busy 45 minutes for the home attack, while the visitors struggled in the final third against the Rapids’ stingy back line.
In the second half, Chivas gained a stronger foothold, but struggled to break down Colorado in the final third. Eric Avila’s 67th minute blast went right into the arms of Rapids ‘keeper Clint Irwin, and substitute Jose Manuel Rivera’s 76th minute shot went just wide of Irwin’s net.
But even with Chivas progressively working their way into the game in the second half, the Rapids sealed the match’s fate in the 78th minute. Right back Brian Mullan’s through ball found Brown speeding down the right flank, and the rookie’s cross into the box found Sturgis open in front of net for the easy finish.
There was one potentially significant downfall for the Rapids in the victory, however. Attacking midfielder Martin Rivero was forced to come off in the 44th minute with a right foot injury – the same foot he broke in late January. The team said Rivero would be further evaluated after the game.
Chivas’ Edgar Mejia was also forced to depart in the first half as well with a left foot sprain, and the midfielder was also set to undergo further evaluation post-game.
Following a U.S. Open Cup game on Tuesday in Orlando, the Rapids stay at home as part of their three-game homestand, next hosting first place FC Dallas on Saturday, while the Goats face the LA Blues in the Open Cup before heading home to host Seattle.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Deshorn Brown||He's still a rookie, but Brown showed multiple facets of his still-developing game, and gave Chivas fits all night|
|2||Drew Moor||Chivas' attack may be sputtering, but Moor was able to neutralize developing plays before they could become chances|
|3||Atiba Harris||Harris is quietly enjoying a career resurgence in Colorado, by maximizing his offensive contributions and limiting his defensive liabilities|