Rapids Delay The Galaxy’s Hopes of Winning Supporters’ Shield

October 17, 2010

Carson, California -- On Saturday evening before a sellout crowd of more than 27,000 at the Home Depot Center, the Colorado Rapids battled to a tough 3-1 victory over the MLS-leading Los Angeles Galaxy.

The game held significant meaning for both sides, as the Rapids earned a spot in the playoffs, while the Galaxy were denied in their attempt to secure the Supporters’ Shield for the best record in the MLS, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

In the 1st minute of play, Landon Donovan put the ball at the feet of Edson Buddle for what appeared to be the first score of the game, however, Buddle was offside. Buddle, the MLS-leading goal scorer for 2010, would not be held down for long.

In the 9th minute, Donovan made a short pass to Chris Birchall, who delivered a good ball to Buddle on the run. Buddle shot on target from 20 yards out with Drew Moor of the Rapids marking him. Moor was not able to defend fast enough as Buddle’s shot deflected off Moor’s leg and over goalkeeper Matt Pickens’ head into goal.

The goal gave Buddle 17 on the season and virtually assures him of winning this year’s MLS Golden Boot Award. Additionally, Landon Donovan tacked on another assist to his season total, widening his lead as the current 2010 MLS assist leader.

In the following minutes however, the true story of this game would be revealed, as the Galaxy would put an offensive onslaught on the Rapids, but would fail to score.

The Galaxy would have numerous chances from a variety of Beckham crosses, but were unable to capitalize. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rapids would have fewer chances, but when they did have an opportunity they made the most of it.

In the 18th minute, the Rapids sent in a corner kick that LA's Sean Franklin attempted to clear out of the 6-yard box. Unfortunately for Franklin, the ball would deflect off Buddle and into goal, tying the game at 1-1.

Still, LA continued to dominate possession and would have plenty of chances to take back the lead.

In the 25th minute, Beckham delivered a cross off a set-piece from about 22 yards out that Buddle headed just wide of goal. The potent Beckham-Buddle combination would continue to generate pressure on the Rapids in the game's subsequent minutes.

In the 31st minute, the Rapids would again capitalize on one of their few chances, as Pablo Mastroeni gained control of the ball at midfield and advanced the ball to a streaking Omar Cummings.

Cummings then sent in a cross to Conor Casey that went through the legs of the Galaxy’s Gregg Berhalter and Omar Gonzalez. With Sean Franklin defending Casey on his far shoulder, Casey scored on goal without much difficulty. For Casey, who always seems to play well against the Galaxy, the goal was his 12th of the season and put the Rapids up 2-1.

In the 36th minute, Casey would further impact the game when he made a hard, late-arriving, and somewhat reckless tackle on Chris Birchall. Casey was given a yellow card by head referee Kevin Stott, while Birchall would eventually exit the match for substitute Eddie Lewis.

As the first half drew to an end, both sides would have chances to score with the Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez heading a nice ball up to Donovan in stoppage time. Donovan would be held on the play by a Rapid defender who wrongly did not draw a call.

Then moments later, the Rapids had a breakaway with Brian Mullan taking a great shot on goal. The ball would hit the crossbar and go out of play, bringing an end to the first half.

During halftime, Colorado likely learned that they were in the MLS playoffs because of a Kansas City Wizards loss. That would perhaps explain why the Rapids came out for the second half more relaxed in their play.

As for the Galaxy, the 2009 Western Conference Champions came out looking to make a comeback in the second half.

In the 53rd minute of play, Buddle controlled a cross sent to him in the 18-yard box and made a great drop-off pass to Michael Stephens. Stephens’ shot went wide of goal in an effort to tie the game.

In the 55th minute, the Rapids would respond when Jamie Smith found himself alone inside the 18-yard box. Smith took a shot on goal that the Galaxy’s Donovan Ricketts barely saved to keep the game at 2-1.

The Galaxy defense would again face problems in the 61st minute, as the Rapids took 3 shots on goal within a few seconds. The first Ricketts saved, the second the goalpost saved, and the third went wide.

In the 67th minute, the Rapids would extend their lead to 3-1 on a breakaway with two Rapids offensive players and three Galaxy defenders back. Conor Casey dribbled unimpeded up field and made a quality pass to Omar Cummings, who scored past Berhalter and Ricketts on a shot to the far post.

The final 20 minutes of the game would see the Galaxy squander plenty of opportunities to fight back.

In the 76th minute, Donovan laid off the ball to Buddle, who put a decent shot on goal through the Rapids defense, but Pickens saved the shot.

In the 79th minute, Beckham fired a free-kick from almost 30 yards away that did not miss the near post by much. Then in the 82nd minute, Alex Cazumba, who substituted in for Gregg Berhalter, made a quality shot from approximately 22 yards out that was deflected just wide of goal.

The Galaxy seemingly cut the lead to 1 goal in the 89th minute when Buddle headed a cross into goal, but the score was disallowed by an assistant referee when he incorrectly called Buddle offside.

Colorado would hold on to beat LA 3-1, delaying the Galaxy’s hopes of winning the MLS Supporters’ Shield.

After the game, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena stated that he thought the team played good with a number of opportunities to score, but that the Rapids punished the Galaxy for their defensive mistakes.

Gregg Berhalter mentioned that the own goal was "disappointing" given that the Galaxy were in absolute control up to that point.

Finally, David Beckham stated that this game was the "best" he has felt since returning from his injury at AC Milan, and that the team needs to put the loss behind them and move on to the final game of the regular season.

The Rapids will face Real Salt Lake next weekend -- a game which will have important implications on the playoff standings for both teams and also the Galaxy. The Galaxy play FC Dallas with another chance to win the Supporters’ Shield and enter the 2010 MLS postseason on a high.

By Brian Kowalski
Contributing Writer for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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