This game was almost a joke, it was so much in Colorado's favor. Minus a couple of threats from the Crew near the end of 90 minutes this one was all Colorado, but they were only able to put a single tally on the board while their defense did the rest, finishing the first leg of the playoff battle with a 1-0 lead.
Columbus came out in a 4-4-2 formation from the outset and immediately the Rapids took advantage of their weak back line and started pounding balls into the box. Everyone from Omar Cummings to Kosuke Kimura seemed to be getting chances at close range, but they all seemed to be finding the keeper or a defender. Finally in the 23rd minute, a lovely play involving Cummings, Conor Casey and Brian Mullan resulted in a wonderful cross right to a wide open Pablo Mastroeni, who buried it to give Colorado the 1-0 lead. It was all about defense after that. Columbus used all three of their subs fairly early on but the defense stifled them.
The end of the game turned very physical, with the referee giving many fouls out for some fairly mundane touches. A boneheaded turnover and foul which resulted in a Yellow for Pablo Mastroeni near the end of the match along with a few timely corners gave Columbus several dangerous chances on goal, Matt Pickens was able to clean up the mess and the Rapids were able to keep possession through almost the entirety of stoppage time to seal the win - most likely thoughts of the disaster against RSL last Saturday fresh in their minds as they made sure to waste as much time as possible.
Columbus will certainly be happy that it was only a 1-0 loss with how badly they played and will now have to look forward to a single goal advantage on the road.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Pablo Mastroeni. You can tell he wants this. A goal and some wonderful defense with only the single blemish on his record at the end to get the yellow card.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Macoumba Kandji. Worst game he's played in a Rapids uniform. He wasn't marking his men and although he made a couple of very good looking passes and touches, nothing materialized into real chances off his foot.