COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Saturday night was supposed to be all about the home debuts of Gabriel Torres and Vicente Sanchez for the Colorado Rapids.
But in Colorado’s 2-0 victory over the Whitecaps at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, it was the Rapids’ other two strikers, high-scoring rookie Deshorn Brown and veteran Edson Buddle, who found the back of the net in extending the Rapids’ unbeaten streak to nine.
Brown’s close-range header in the 36th and Buddle’s deflected 80th minute shot were the difference as the Rapids collected three critical points over the Whitecaps, who lost for the third time in their last five matches. Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin collected three highlight-reel saves to preserve the clean sheet for the home side.
The packed Western Conference standings cleared up a smidge with Colorado’s win. The Rapids moved alone into second with the win, three points ahead of Vancouver, who remain momentarily tied with the Timbers for the third spot in the West.
On a hot summer evening in suburban Denver, the Rapids got off to a toasty start, nearly taking the lead in the fourth minute, but Hendry Thomas’ powerful header just whizzed over Whitecaps ‘keeper David Ousted’s goal.
Making his highly anticipated debut as the Rapids’ first Designated Player in franchise history, Torres started and saw his 19th minute blast narrowly sail over the crossbar from a tough angle.
Seven minutes later, the Whitecaps nearly took the lead against the run of play. Alone in the box, Irwin expertly snuffed out Russell Teibert’s close-range shot, with Irwin cutting off Teibert’s angle and making a brave save in the box on the ‘Caps youngster.
Irwin was again at his best to stop Camilo from re-taking the MLS Golden Boot lead in the 35th minute. Teibert’s through ball got to Camilo, but Irwin brilliantly stuck out a leg to deny the Brazilian from scoring his 15th of the season.
Just as the Whitecaps seemed to be getting a foothold in the match, the Rapids’ star rookie came to the rescue. Making his first Rapids start, Sanchez delivered a perfect cross from the right wing, and using his speed to create space, Brown finished with a thundering header just in front of goal at the far left post to give the Rapids the 1-0 lead in the 36th minute. The goal was Brown’s team-leading seventh of the season.
On the other side of the half, Torres had another clear chance to earn a goal in his Rapids debut. Put clear on Dillon Powers’ through ball in the 52nd minute, Torres had too strong of a first touch and Ousted was able to charge out of his net to deny the Panamanian from scoring in his debut.
The Whitecaps came close to equalizing in the 67th minute, when substitute Darren Mattocks blazed past Marvell Wynne, but Irwin came up large again with a diving stop to palm away the Jamaican’s open effort.
The Rapids put the game to bed in the 80th minute when substitute Nick LaBrocca’s through ball found Buddle open on the right side of the box, and his ensuing shot deflected off 'Caps defender Johnny Leveron and past Ousted to ensure a key three points for Oscar Pareja’s surging side.
The Rapids will enjoy a week off before heading to Kansas City for a showdown with Sporting at Livestrong Park on Aug. 31, while the Whitecaps head home for a key tilt against the Galaxy at BC Place on Aug. 24
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Deshorn Brown||For all the talk about the rookie's finishing struggles, he still leads the Rapids with 7 goals. His speed once again was a major factor in the game and specifically on the goal.|
|2||Clint Irwin||Made three key saves over the course of the match to frustrate the usually lethal Whitecaps forwards. Strong off his line, Irwin continues to grow in confidence.|
|3||Hendry Thomas||Despite visibly gritting through injury, Thomas stayed on the field and kept tackling and challenging for balls. Has a commanding presence in the Rapids midfield.|