Colorado beats Columbus 1-0

Pablo Mastroeni’s first-half goal gave the Colorado Rapids a 1-0

home win over Columbus Crew in Thursday’s opening leg of their MLS

Eastern Conference semifinal.

Mastroeni, the veteran former U.S. international midfielder, and

the only player remaining from the club’s last playoff appearance

in 2006, netted a cross from Omar Cummings.

The second leg is in Columbus on Saturday.

The Crew was on the attack early, with Emmanuel Ekpo shooting

narrowly wide in the sixth minute.

Colorado took over and ruined a chance when Cummings overhit a

pass to Conor Casey on a two-on-one break in the 10th minute.

Cummings missed a second chance in the 21st minute, sliding a shot

well wide of the left post.

Colorado broke through in the 24th. Cummings’ pass was deflected

in front of the goal and right to Mastroeni, who easily beat

Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.

Gruenebaum was making his MLS debut, replacing William Hesmer,

who broke his shoulder in the last regular-season game on

Sunday.

The Rapids had chances to increase their lead. Cummings missed

with a header in the 31st minute and Wells Thompson hit the side

netting after breaking free in the 39th minute.

The hosts had a 10-1 shot advantage in the first half and that

domination continued after the interval.

Cummings misfired on a header early in the second half.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto was left free long enough to take a shot

from 25 yards out in the 56th minute, but it landed in the stands

beyond the goal.

The Crew threatened an equalizer late, with Colorado goalkeeper

Matt Pickens forced into some big saves. He swatted away a shot in

traffic in the 77th minute and blocked Andy Iro’s header in the

84th minute.