In a meeting of conference leaders, East toppled West as D.C. United beat the Colorado Rapids tonight, 1-0, before 14,982 at Mile High Stadium. The win extended United's win streak to seven.
United (19-7) didn't waste any time getting out front. In the game's 16th minute, midfielder Ben Olsen controlled Geoff Aunger's lofted forward pass six yards in front of the Rapids' goal and directed it by both midfielder Ross Paule and keeper Ian Feuer. Feuer was able to get a hand on the shot, but not enough to keep it from hitting the corner of the net.
"We certainly don't like losing," United Coach Thomas Rongen said. "And any time you get the conference leaders playing together, it's going to be a battle. We wanted to show we can at least get even in the regular season and tie the series at 1-1."
The Rapids beat United, 2-1, at RFK Stadium on July 10.
Olsen's goal tonight was his fifth of the season and extended his five-match scoring streak. He also scored the first goal on Wednesday when United defeated Miami, 3-1.
Colorado had several opportunities to get even in the first half. Jorge Dely Valdes, who scored the game-winner in the game at RFK, caught D.C. goalkeeper Mark Simpson out of position with 22 minutes remaining in the half. Valdes unloaded from 14 yards out, but his hard shot fell just outside of the crossbar. With four minutes remaining in the first half, Paule angled a direct kick from just outside the box high into the corner of D.C.'s net that Simpson was able to deflect outside the crossbar.
United dodged a bullet in the opening minutes of the second half when a free kick from 16 yards by Colorado's Marcelo Balboa hit the post.
Simpson has been in the net for five of D.C.'s victories during the streak. Rongen also went with the same back three of Carey Talley, Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope for the fourth consecutive match, and didn't make any substitutions in the game until the 88th minute.
Colorado (16-8) became the first Western Conference victim of United on this streak. The Rapids were attempting to set a team record for wins, surpassing the 16 victories they accumulated in 1998, when they finished 16-16.
Both teams had several key players returning to the lineup. United's Roy Lassiter, who is tied with Dallas's Jason Kreis for the MLS scoring lead with 16 goals and eight assists, sat out Wednesday's win with a red-card suspension. Paule returned for Colorado for the first time since suffering a concussion and fractured orbital wall near his right eye after a collision with Tampa Bay's Ritchie Kotschau on Aug. 13. The Rapids' Paul Bravo also returned to the lineup after missing several games with turf toe.
Summary on Page D13
* FIRE 2, REVOLUTION 1: Roman Kosecki and Peter Nowak, two MLS all-stars from Poland, scored to lead host Chicago. The win moved Chicago past Los Angeles into second place in the Western Conference.
Kosecki opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a six-yarder past goalkeeper Walter Zenga.
Kosecki assisted on Nowak's goal from 20 yards out 11 minutes later as the Fire, who played in the black and gold of the defunct Chicago Sting pro soccer team, took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
New England, which trails Miami by three points for the last playoff spot in the East, avoided a shutout when Mike Burns's 18-yarder beat goalkeeper Zach Thornton to the left side in the 73rd minute.
* BURN 1, GALAXY 0: Ariel Graziani's goal in the 54th minute gave host Dallas the win. Graziani, the Ecuadorian forward acquired in a trade from New England, has scored three goals in as many games with Dallas.
CAPTION: Ante Razov, right, beats Revolution's Brian Dunseth to header during Chicago's 2-1 win. United 1, Rapids 0