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Saturday, November 13, 2010
MLS PLAYOFFS: Rapids freeze out Quakes, head to Cup

By Scott French

A look at Saturday's Eastern Conference final:

IN BRIEF: Colorado reached its second MLS Cup final -- its first in 13 years -- with a deserved 1-0 triumph over visiting San Jose in sub-freezing temperatures just outside Denver. … Right back Kosuke Kimura's cross sneaked into the net in the 43rd minute, but the Rapids would have had more if not for another superb performance by Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. … The Rapids await the winner of the Galaxy-FC Dallas clash in Sunday's Western Conference final at Home Depot Center.

BEST PLAYER: It's Omar Cummings again. The speedy Rapids forward tormented the Quakes with runs through and behind the defense, constantly creating or exploiting space -- had his shot been on, he would have had a hat trick. He doesn't get an assist on Kimura's goal, but he deserves one: His near-post run froze Busch, allowing the in-swinging cross to skip past and inside the far post.

BEST GOAL: There only was one, and, no, it wasn't a work of art, but who cares? Kimura, the only Japanese player in the league, scored his first goal of the campaign -- and just his third in four seasons -- with a sensational cross from the right flank after a throw-in. With Bobby Convey applying pressure, Kimura curled a left-footed ball toward Cummings, who split San Jose's Jason Hernandez and Sam Cronin to get free at the near post. At first, it looked like Cummings got a touch on the ball, sending it past Busch, but replays indicated the cross had sneaked through on its own, and Cummings acknowledged at halftime that he hadn't gotten a piece of it.

BIGGEST STOP: Busch had plenty, including two big stops on Cummings and another on Pablo Mastroeni, but Brazilian forward Geovanni made the biggest, keeping the Quakes in the game by clearing Drew Moor's header from a Wells Thompson corner kick off the line at the right post in the 70th minute.

WORTH NOTING: The Rapids are the third successive crossover finalist. New York, sent to the Western Conference bracket in 2008 after finishing fifth in the East, stunned Houston and Real Salt Lake to reach the MLS Cup final, and Real Salt Lake's title run last year went through the East after a fifth-place finish in the West. Colorado was, naturally, fifth in the West this year. … The Rapids upset Kansas City and Dallas en route to the 1997 MLS Cup final, but lost, 2-1, against D.C. United in front of 57,431 at RFK Stadium in Washington. Jaime Moreno and Tony Sanneh gave D.C., coached by current Galaxy boss Bruce Arena, a two-goal lead, and Adrian Paz got one back in the 75th minute for Colorado.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think the goal was maybe a little fortuitous, and he doesn't get on the score sheet all that often. … If there had been a bet on it, you would've had very long odds on Koski scoring the game-winner.” -- Colorado head coach Gary Smith.

THE RESULTS
at Commerce City, Colo.
Colorado 1 (Kimura 43), San Jose 0

Western Conference final
Sunday: L.A. Galaxy vs. FC Dallas at Home Depot Center, 6 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes

MLS Cup
Nov. 21: at Toronto, 5:30 p.m., ESPN and TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)

All times Pacific