The Tampa Bay Mutiny used aggressive runs from strikers Roy Lassiter and Giuseppe Galderisi to crack Colorado's defense and defeat the Rapids 3-1 Sunday.
Although Tampa Bay was flagged 15 times for being offsides, the strategy worked, as both strikers and midfielder Steve Ralston scored before 6,320 at Mile High Stadium.
"I'm going to keep going, no matter how often they call me offside," Lassiter said. "I was pushing it, and I would say two or three times I wasn't off when they called it."
Tampa Bay (11-7) has won all three games against Colorado (8-12).
"We feel we match up well against this team," Mutiny coach Thomas Rongen said. "We defend in numbers, we keep control. We knew we could compete with them because they play the long ball."
Lassiter got Tampa Bay rolling in the 24th minute. He outran two defenders to a through ball from Galderisi on the left wing. His shot deflected off goalkeeper Chris Woods into the goal.
The goal was Lassiter's 13th of the season, second best in Major League Soccer. He outmaneuvered Matt Kmosko and Denis Hamlett on the play.
"(Lassiter) made a great run through us and caught us off guard," Kmosko said. "We were too flat, too stationary."
Carlos Valderrama got the ball to Galderisi under pressure and also was credited with an assist, his first of two in the game.
Colorado scored early in the second half, when Kmosko caught Mutiny goalkeeper Mark Dougherty out of position. The shot was stopped by defender Steve Pittman, but the linesman ruled the ball crossed the goal line.
The goal put some life in the Rapids, but Tampa Bay went back in front midway through the half. Ralston's unassisted goal in the 72nd minute lipped inside the right post and crossed over to the left, never going more than a yard deep in the goal.
"It was barely in," Ralston said. "I had a lot of space, cut the middle and took it against (Scott) Cannon."
The final score came in the 76th minute when Colorado tried to trap the Mutiny and left Galderisi free in the backfield. He took a pass from Valderrama and easily beat Woods.
With that assist, his ninth, Valderrama tied Washington's Marco Etcheverry for the league lead.
"I really don't look for that," Valderrama said. "We were trying to manage the ball as well as possible."
Valderrama and Lassiter hooked up again late, but Tampa Bay was called for being offsides, even with two defenders just outside the goal box.
"I think he's really enjoying himself and we're finding him a lot better than before," Rongen said of Valderrama. "He's the one and only."