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Rapids bounce Victory from US Open Cup

July 11, 2007 - USL First Division (USL-1) - California Victory News Release


COMMERCE CITY, CO (July 10, 2007) -- The California Victory are out of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup after falling to the Colorado Rapids 3-1 Tuesday night in Colorado.

The Victory battled hard but were unable to match fellow USLers Charleston Battery and Richmond Kickers by dumping an MLS side out of the tournament.

Jose Cancela netted in the first-half for the Rapids before Hercules Gomez added another in the second. But Juan Epitie made it interesting in the second by pulling one back for the Vics.

However, Omar Cummings bagged a safety-net goal late in the game for the Rapids, ensuring it was his team going through to the quarter-finals.

The third round US Open Cup match was played in the brand-new, soccer-specific Dick's Sporting Goods Park -- a truly stunning stadium with first-class facilities and a grass field that looks more like carpet. A Colorado-style storm threatened to roll in minutes before the match, bringing with it a warm, balmy wind that felt a million miles from the Victory's home at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

Victory head coach Glenn Van Straatum handed midfielder Federico Bianchi his debut, starting in a central holding position with Jose Retiz.

The Rapids had an excellent chance early on when Hercules Gomez burst behind the Vic defense and one one one with Vic 'keeper Eric Reed, but his attempt on goal bounced off the foot of the post leaving Ryan Suarez to clear.

Minutes later Jose Cancela bent a free kick around the Victory wall from 25 yards, leaving Reed to palm away for his first save.

The Vics struggled to retain possession in the opening minutes but they battled hard and defended in numbers.

The Rapids' Daniel Wasson almost turned in a corner after Reed misjudged a back pass.

Victory midfielder Matt Fitzgerald again looked lively on the right, connecting well with Bianchi and Hansen while at times taking the Rapids on with some clever runs.

But in the 22nd minute Cancela had another chance at a free kick after Chris Schwarze hauled down Wasson 25 yards out, dead center, with a professional foul.

Cancela placed his kick in the top-left corner, leaving Reed no chance, and the home side were up 1-0.

And the Rapids almost added a second right after the restart but Gomez' speculative shot went wide.

Gomez threatened again from the right side, but Reed saved well -- and when he fed Robert Brown for another one-on-one opportunity, the big Victory 'keeper was there to squelch the attack once more.

The Vics had a first-half chances through Josh Hansen, who shot wide, and Aguayo, whose 30-yarder sailed high.

Minutes after the restart Gomez finally doubled the Rapids' tally after threatening all night, with Cancela adding an assist to his earlier goal.

Cancela delivered a fantastic cross from wide right, leaving an unmarked Gomez to head home from five yards.

The Vics tried to get some movement going in the Colorado end, with substitute Yuri Morales having a shot blocked and Bianchi feeding Aaron Chandler for an off-target header.

And Juan Epitie weaved his way through a nest of defenders toward goal, but the former Alaves man couldn't get a pass off and was sent tumbling to the ground.

However, minutes later Epitie got a shot off from 20 yards -- and while the ball bounced off the foot off the post, it took a fortuitous deflection off the Rapids 'keeper and rolled into the goal. Suddenly the Vics, who had been on the back foot throughout most of the goal, were in contention.

But ultimately the game was put out of reach in the 88th minute when Gomez, who had been a nightmare for the visitors all night, sent a crafty chip over the centerback to Omar Cummings, who brought the ball down well with his chest and fired home.

The Rapids next cup fixture is against the winner of the Seattle/Chivas USA tie, also played tonight. California, now out of the tournament, heads to Portland for a two-game USL series beginning Friday, July 13.

Victory: Reed, Aguilar, Schwarze, Suarez, Retiz, Bianchi (Vic debut), Muñoz, Aguayo, Fitzgerald, Epitie, Hansen. Subs: Jakubek, Mira, Kim, Chandler, Morales, Casillas

Colorado: Thornton, Keel, Ihemelu, Harvey, Kimura, Wasson, Beckerman, LaBrocca, Cancela,Brown, Gomez. Subs: Hughes, Colcluca, Cooke, Cummings, Hernandez, Kirovski, Prideaux

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