It took a little longer than the Salsa figured, but the team finally delivered some pay-back Saturday night.
The Salsa dominated the American Professional Soccer League champion Colorado Foxes, 3-0, in front of a crowd of 3,147 at Titan Stadium, easing the pain of last season's overtime title-game loss to the Foxes--albeit slightly.
The Salsa came up short in two previous attempts to avenge its 3-1 loss in the championship game, losing to the Foxes in the teams' first two games of the season at Denver's Mile High Stadium.
"We were due to beat these guys," forward Paul Wright said. "It feels really good to finally beat them--especially the way we did it."
Which was thoroughly.
The Salsa, which lost three of its previous four games, outplayed the Foxes beginning in the middle of the first half in one of its best games of the season. The Salsa (5-5) moved into third place in the APSL. The Foxes dropped to 6-4.
Wright helped provide all the scoring the Salsa would need. In the 44th minute, Wright made a nifty pass to defender Danny Pena that he drilled past Colorado goalkeeper Mark Dodd. Paulinho--the league's 1993 MVP--gave the Salsa a 2-0 lead early in the second half.
In the 50th minute, the Brazilian midfielder controlled his own rebound of a free kick and scored. It was Paulinho's first goal in four matches. Forward Arut Karapetyan made a swift move past Dodd to close the game's scoring in the 84th minute.
Karapetyan eluded a Colorado defender at midfield and made an off-balance, left-footed shot that sent Dodd into a fit. It capped the Salsa's smoothest showing on offense in quite a while, according to Wright.
"Our offense was really working," Wright said. "We were making good passes and getting good shots, but our defense was even better."
Thanks in large part to goalkeeper Mike Littman.
Littman improved to 3-1 and shut out his second opponent. He turned away six shots, including three during a frantic sequence late in the second half.
"It's always good to beat the champion," Littman said. "I'd like to play Colorado and beat them every game. We played well when we were up in Colorado, we were just real unfortunate.
"The guys played great in front of me, which let me stay in good shape out there."
In addition to scoring the first goal, Pena did a sound job of helping to neutralize Colorado forward Walter Boyd and midfielder Ted Eck, two of the league's fastest players.
"This was a good win for us," Wright said. "Hopefully we can build on it."