Omar Cummings scored in the 58th minute to help lead the Colorado Rapids to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday night.
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The teams exchanged scoring chances for much of the game until Cummings found himself alone in the slot. Brian Mullan set up Cummings’ second goal of the year. Cummings has six goals in seven games in his career against Chicago.
Last season, Cummings struggled to score goals as opponents double and triple-teamed the Colorado forward.
”It was like two defenders and a forward were always there,” Cummings said of his three-goal campaign. ”I’d shift over to one side and one of them would shift over and it was difficult to get space.”
This year already seems to be one of better fortune.
”I’m not going to be too happy and go over the edge,” Cummings said. ”It’s four games into the season and we have 30 more to go.”
Kamani Hill added a goal in added time at the end of the game
Matt Pickens earned his second shutout of the year and his 23rd as a member of the Rapids (3-1-0). He trails only Joe Cannon (25) for the career franchise lead.
”I’m very happy with the results,” Colorado coach Oscar Pareja. ”This makes me more optimistic about the team.”
Pablo Tornaghi had a strong game in goal for the Fire (1-2-1). Tornaghi has given up four goals in three games.
Dominic Oduro, who has scored the team’s only goals this season, was denied three times by Pickens.
”This was a tough one it was a little disappointing,” Chicago coach Frank Klopas said. ”I thought we had a couple of chances that we didn’t make them pay.”
The road team has won only once in the last 15 games in the season series, and this is the only meeting between the teams this year.
The game was scoreless at the break in a half that began when Pickens smothered a rocket shot from the slot by Marco Pappa in the second minute for Chicago. Tornaghi matched it with a diving stop of a shot by Tony Cascio in the 11th minute.
Pappa set up Oduro for a breakaway attempt in the 37th minute. Pickens came well out of the crease to jump on Oduro’s shot. Pickens caught a shot that deflected off several players huddled in front of the net in the 42nd minute.
”I think I just miss hit the ball,” Oduro said. ”I tried to get a shot off and didn’t get good contact to it. I wish I had done something better.”
Added Pickens: ”I didn’t expect him to take a touch in and go. I’d rather take balls that are 20 or 30 yards out than balls that are in the box.”
Colorado failed to convert on a penalty kick from short range after Jeff Larentowicz was fouled. But Martin Rivero’s free kick sailed well over the cross bar in the 55th minute.
Three minutes later, Colorado had a 1-0 lead.
Rivero dumped a pass deep into the Chicago zone. Mullan ran the ball down and fed Cummings in the slot, and Cummings sent a shot past Tornaghi.
Pickens kept Chicago off the scoreboard in the 68th minute. Oduro peppered him with two hard shots 15 seconds apart that Pickens blocked with both hands.