for this game

Rapids begin new era with win over United

Apr 8, 2007 - 12:05 AM COMMERCE CITY, Colorado (Ticker) -- There was a new stadium, new logo and new colors for the Colorado Rapids. There also was the same old result here for D.C. United.

First-half goals by Hercules Gomez and Roberto Brown christened Dick's Sporting Goods Park and the Rapids began a new era with a 2-1 victory over United, winning a season opener for the first time in franchise history.

"We were able to give opportunties to the players coming in like Herculez Gomez and Roberto Brown," Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo said. "They were a big part of this win and I'm extremely pleased for them."

Terry Cooke set up both goals for the Rapids, who had been 0-9-2 in openers but rode the momentum from the christening of their new facility and donning of new burgundy and blue uniforms.

"We all thought this is a new chapter so it was a fresh start with the new stadium, new colors and all that," Colorado's Kyle Beckerman said. "We all knew it was a big deal. We didn't want (the newspapers) to say, 'Rapids lose home opener.' Once we got out there, the nerves went away and we were able to play."

The stadium is a soccer-specific facility that replaces Invesco Field at Mile High as the club's home field. Its capacity is about one-third that of Invesco but has a wider pitch.

"We wanted to come out here and make this a tough place to play in," Gomez said. "We defeated one of the best teams in the league. I feel like we opened up a new chapter."

"You can kick it as hard as you can and the ball's not really going to go out," Beckerman said. "It was a nice change, definitely. It was cool."

No matter what facility, United has not won in Colorado since May 6, 2000. They are 0-6-2 with four straight losses during that stretch.

Gomez's goal in the 19th minute came off a set piece. Cooke delivered a terrific corner kick from the right side and Gomez rose to head the ball on a bounce past helpless diving goalkeeper Troy Perkins.

Gomez celebrated with a skidding knee slide along the left sideline as the sellout crowd of 18,086 - braving freezing conditions - erupted.

"I don't remember goals too much, to tell you the truth," Gomez said. "Everything is going a thousand miles per hour. I just remember Cooke sending in a brilliant ball. It happened that it dipped and I got on the end of it."

"He's a very young, talented forward," Clavijo said. "We transferred him to a new position. He's hopefully an upcoming young star for us, so I'm very pleased."

In the 35th minute, Brown doubled the advantage off more playmaking by Cooke, who tracked down a long pass before the end line and sent a centering pass left just outside the box. The unmarked Brown delivered a hard roller from about 15 feet inside the left post.

Colorado continued to carry play into the second half before D.C. finally broke through in the 80th minute as a pair of substitutes collaborated. Kasali Yinka Casal sent a cross from just outside the left of the box that Luciano Emilio headed past goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.

In injury time, Brown had a breakaway goal disallowed by a foul and Coundoul smothered a last-gasp shot to preserve the win.

"In the last 20 to 25 minutes I think we gave up the ball a little too much," Calvijo said. "We lost possession and that's when it can be dangerous."

A year ago, United claimed the Supporters' Shield for the best record (15-7-10) in MLS. But they were unable to defeat the Rapids, losing on the road and drawing at home.

United made some dramatic changes during the offseason, replacing coach Peter Nowak with assistant Tom Soehn and trading teenage sensation Freddy Adu to Real Salt Lake. They also dealt away striker Alecko Eskandarian and goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

"It's going to be refreshing for us to get home and recharge our batteries," Soehn said. "You always evaluate what happens. We will sit back and watch the game, see what we can do better. It's good to go home, refocus and get back to work, because today wasn't good enough."

The teams meet June 28 in Washington, where Colorado has not won in eight matches since July 10, 1999.








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    Apr 7 5:57 PM


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    D.C. United vs. RapidsApr 7 5:47 PM


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    DC UNITED GOAL: Luciano Emilio in the 80th minute

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    D.C. United vs. RapidsApr 7 4:37 PM


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    COLORADO GOAL: Herculez Gomez in the 19th minute

    D.C. United vs. RapidsApr 7 4:21 PM