By: William Gray
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — After a Pablo Mastroeni goal in the 23rd minute, chances on both sides were denied, leaving the Rapids with a 1-0 victory over the Crew.
It was a classic playoff matchup. The battle hardened, deliberate Columbus Crew versus the young and spontaneous Colorado Rapids. Both sides had let downs and both sides drove deep into the opponents box. Both sides glanced balls off the post and both sides saved sure goals. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it was hotly contested.[picappgallerysingle id=”10080853″]
After all was said and done, Colorado gained a 1-0 advantage and the Crew were lucky to avoid any further damage.
Mastroeni’s goal came on a flashing run from the midfield that was fed by Conor Casey. Buried into the back of the net, it set the. tone for a wild game to come. Colorado threatened for the rest of the first half, putting multiple shots on target and testing Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. The staunch Crew back four including Hejduk and Marshall seemed bewildered and off-balance.
The second half brought the reverse. Columbus penetrated deep into the box, winning several free kicks in dangerous positions. Often they tested Matt Pickens and each time he cleared his net, several times with flying, one-handed punches. As time expired, the Rapids still held a white-knuckled hand around their one goal lead.
And so back to Columbus we go. Despite having the advantage, Rapids players should have a strong sense of foreboding. The season series started in the same 1-0 fashion at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The following game at Crew Stadium left the Rapids defeated 3-1.
There should be a good deal of time for the nerves to build up on Colorado’s end as the next game isn’t until Nov. 6th.