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September 4, 2010 9:00 PM EDT
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado
Referee:‬ Michael Kennedy‎
52′ Conor Casey

Colorado Rapids 3-0 Chivas USA: Rapids Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

By Manuel Carrera

Omar Cummings, Colorado Rapids; MLS (Getty Images)
Colorado outclassed Chivas USA in a match that both squads needed to win in order to keep their playoffs hopes alive.

First Half

Chivas USA’s began the match without four key starters on the pitch, with Giancarlo Maldonado and Jonathan Bornstein out with injuries and Dario Delgado available on the bench. Just four minutes into the match, Jesus Padilla froze the Colorado back line with a stutter step and passed to Alan Gordon, who crossed to Paulo Nagamura for a sharp head on goal that forced Matt Pickens to make a diving save.

Colorado seemed to be caught flat footed by the early attack and responded by applying a full press defense that caused the Goats to surrender the ball at midfield. The pressure almost paid off in the 23rd minute when Mariano Trujillo lost the ball to Conor Casey just outside the penalty area, resulting in a powerful shot that Zach Thornton was unable to control, but Omar Cummings arrived too late to put the rebound away.

The constant pressure by Colorado forced the Goats to commit more men to defense, effectively putting an end to the open football that was being played early on in the half and allowing the Rapids to control the tempo of the match. The patchwork Chivas USA lineup appeared to be on different wavelengths as Ante Jazic scolded Michael Lahoud on the pitch after a couple of errant passes, while Paulo Nagamura glared at Alan Gordon for being late on runs into the area.

Colorado, meanwhile, had the better sequences of the half as the Chivas USA defense did not have anyone large enough to deny Casey positions within the penalty area, nor did they have anyone quick enough to mark Omar Cummings, forcing Thornton into action three times in the first half.

Second Half

Colorado opened their account just six minutes into the second half as Omar Cummings found himself unmarked down the right flank and unleashed a powerful shot that Thornton appeared to have handled. But the keeper dropped the ball at the foot of Casey, who easily put the ball away.

Martin Vasquez responded by inserting two offensive players, Justin Braun and Sal Zizzo, as a means of speeding up the tempo of the match and easing some of the pressure that the Colorado midfield continued to place on their attackers. In the 68th minute, Cummings struck down the right flank again, faking Jazic left, then faking Jazic right, before firing a low shot that Thornton could only wave at as it entered his goal.

Vasquez also brought in Jorge “The Dream” Flores in the 73rd minute, but the change had no positive effect for the Goats, as Colorado’s relentless defense across the pitch proved too much for a lineup that was not accustomed to playing together. Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz exploited the poor possession and continually found both Casey and Cummings open in dangerous parts of the pitch.

In the 80th minute, Cummings put the match out of reach with a sensational goal off an unforced error by Yamith Cuesta.

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Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Clint Dempsey Clint Dempsey
Seattle Sounders
6 1
E. Torres E. Torres
Chivas USA
5 2
V. Sánchez V. Sánchez
4 3
Federico Higuaín Federico Higuaín
Columbus Crew
4 2
Kenny Miller Kenny Miller
3 2