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Pablo’s early goal, Casey’s hat trick overwhelm understaffed Chivas USA

August 8, 2009 | 11:45 pm 2
By George Tanner

Rapids striker Conor Casey scored his ninth, 10th and 11th goals against Chivas USA on Saturday. (photo by Jonathan Ingraham/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

When defensive midfielder Pablo Mastroeni scores, the Colorado Rapids need to make it count.

And did they ever against Chivas USA.

Mastroeni scored in the first minute of Saturday’s match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and Conor Casey followed with three more first-half goals as the Rapids blew out the Goats 4-0.

Pablo hadn’t scored since April 2005. His goal on Saturday came 26 seconds into the contest, the second-fastest in the history of the Rapids franchise and the sixth-fasted in Major League Soccer history.

Omar Cummings was advancing into the Chivas penalty box when he ran out of room. He checked the ball back to Mastroeni, who had plenty of room. He looked around to find an offensive option. But when he had none, the green light went off inside his head, and he teed up his shot.

His 30-yard missile was headed toward goalkeeper Lance Parker, but the ball tailed away from him as he dove to his left, both arms outstretched.

Pablo’s teammates swarmed around him in delight, and the goal lit a fire that Chivas could not put out.

About three minutes later, Casey used a subtle touch to chip Parker for the Rapids second goal.

Defender Kosuke Kimura threw in the ball to Cummings along the right sideline. Cummings, who was facing Kimura, flicked it backward to Casey, who took off toward Parker and the Chivas goal. With one touch that looked more like a Hacky Sack move than a strike from the leading scorer in MLS, Casey tapped his shot over Parker. His picturesque leap was not enough. The ball sailed just beyond his reach, kissed the underside of the crossbar and bounced into the goal.

Chivas USA coach Preki was more disappointed with his team’s inability to stop the Rapids than he was impressed with the quality of Mastroeni’s and Casey’s opening goals.

“We just gave them two goals in the first five minutes. We handed them two goals,” he said.

But if he didn’t like those goals, he probably wasn’t happy with the next two, either.

In the 23rd minute, Kimura again was looking for Cummings, and the Jamaican again was along the right side of the field. Kimura’s long pass gave Cummings room to move forward, and Cummings laced a pinpoint pass from right to left that found Casey. Boom. 3-0. Cummings’ pass was so precise that Chivas’ Shavar Thomas, Jonathan Bornstein, Gerson Mayen and Parker couldn’t touch it, but the ball found its way directly to Casey’s boot.

The dagger came in first-half extra time. On a long Matt Pickens goal kick, Thomas brought down Cummings in the Chivas penalty box. It looked like the initial contact came inches outside the the box, but by the time Cummings was on the ground, both players were a few yards inside.

Thomas got a red card, and the Rapids got a penalty kick.

Casey pretended to blast the PK at Parker but instead floated the ball softly into the net, just off center.

Thomas’ ejection meant the Goats would be without one more player in a midseason that has become a nightmare.

Chivas was missing forward Justin Braun (concussion), goalkeeper Dan Kennedy (knee surger), striker Ante Razov (ankle surgery); defender Claudio Suarez (calf strain), defender Lawson Vaughn (ankle surgery) midfielder Cesar Zamora (hamstring strain), defender Jim Curtin (hamstring strain), goalkeeeper Zach Thornton (quad strain), defensive midfielder Paulo Nagamura (caution accumulation) and Carey Talley (caution accumulation).

Chivas hadn’t played a game since July 19 and had hoped the time off would help. It didn’t.

The team hasn’t won a game since June 6. The Goats are 0-8-1 in all competitions during that stretch, and they have gone 291 minutes without scoring a goal.

“We’re not panicking, but we know we’re in somewhat of a slump,” Preki said. “Our destiny’s in our hand. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game. We’ll go home and talk about it … and we’ll go from there.”

MAN OF THE MATCH: I’ll go with Cummings. He had three assists in the match, and he set up Casey’s PK with his run onto the Pickens goal kick in extra time. That’s as good as four assists. Also, in the 49th minute, Omar hit the crossbar after a beautiful pass from Casey. The big bald guy had three goals, but the smaller bald guy had a full 90 of top-quality play. Cummings now leads the league with 10 assists. Cuauhtemoc Blanco is in second place with seven.

BACK ON TOP: With his three goals, Casey climbed back into the league lead in goal scoring. Guillermo Barros Schelotto is second, with 10. It was the third hat trick of Casey’s career.

THE HEIRARCHY OF CAPTAINS: After Mastroeni left the game in the 69th minute, Cory Gibbs wore the captain’s armband. But that lasted all of about eight minutes. Gibbs was replaced by Ty Harden in the 77th minute, then the armband went to Pickens.

RAPIDS MISSING: The Rapids were missing Julien Baudet, who broke his forearm, and Ugo Ihemelu, who was suspended because of two yellow cards he received Aug. 1.

HOMEGROWN GOAT: Monument, Colo.’s own Bobby Burling started the game on the bench for Chivas. Burling graduated in 2003 from Lewis-Palmer High School. He started the second half, after the result was out of reach. He played well, too. He more or less held Cummings in check, including two hard fouls that weren’t whistled. “He did OK,” Preki said. “A good 45 minutes. No goals. That’s important.”

CHIVAS STARTERS: Parker, Mayen, Bornstein, Thomas, Jazic, Kljestan, Marsch, Saragosa, Victorine, Galindo, Lillingston.

RAPIDS STARTERS: Pickens, Kimura, Gibbs, Palguta, Harvey, Jamie Smith, LaBrocca, Mastroeni, Clark, Casey, Cummings.

blockquote-tiny-georgie-mug George Tanner is a former writer and editor for the Rocky Mountain News; the Greeley Tribune; The Daily Independent of Ridgecrest, Calif.; the Durango Herald; and the Boulder Daily Camera. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and an associate professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. E-mail him at [email protected].

To advertise on Colorado Soccer Now, e-mail George at [email protected].

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  • Bonji said:

    I thought Casey would be a shoe in for GOTW with that chip…until I saw Donovan’s wondergoal.

  • George Tanner (author) said:

    and what’s happening when PABLO is up for goal of the week? amazing! here are all the candidates:
    and, like bonji said, the donovan goal is worth watching.

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