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Colorado newcomer hits net in England
by Ridge Mahoney, March 5th, 2008 10:12PM

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[MLS] Midfielder Rafael Gomes, whose signing was announced just two days ago, didn't need much time to stamp his influence on the Colorado attack; he scored midway through the first half Wednesday as Colorado beat Ipswich Town, 3-2, at the Arsenal Training Centre in Hertfordshire, England.

Gomes has already received his P-1 visa and a mention in Wednesday's edition that he didn't make the trip to England is obviously incorrect.

Nick LaBrocca and Jovan Kirovski added goals as the Rapids ran their preseason record to 3-0-3. Their stay in England concludes Thursday with a match against the Arsenal reserves.

Ipswich currently plays in the League Championship, one division below the Premier League. Its first team tied Sheffield United, 1-1, in a league match Tuesday night, and Colorado played a squad of mostly reserve and youth players.

Coach Fernando Clavijo sent out a starting lineup that included both Christian Gomez and Gomes - sure to be a source of confusion for announcers and journalists and fans - as well as projected starting defenders Facundo Erpen and Jose Burciaga Jr., and regular goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul. Clavijo changed eight field players at halftime and switched two more in the second half, leaving only Coundoul to play the entire 90 minutes.

LaBrocca blasted home a shot from outside the penalty area two minutes after Ipswich had equalized in the 57th minute. Ipswich tied the match again on a penalty kick midway through the second half; Kirovski ran onto a long ball from left back Tim Ward to net the winner in the 74th minute.

"The team is getting back to game fitness and understanding with new players arriving," said Clavijo in an e-mail. "Rafael Gomes from Brazil is looking very, very good and Christian Gomez looks like the 2006 MVP of the MLS. Great goal by Gomes in first starting game for the Rapids."

Forward Tom McManus, who joined the team in England on trial, played the second half, as did rookie midfielder Ciaran O'Brien, picked by Clavijo with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 SuperDraft.



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