Photo by ISIPhotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
The Los Angeles Galaxy were able to check off their first box in their "to-do" list for the 2011 MLS season on Friday night with a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.
Landon Donovan scored in the 36th minute as Los Angeles was able to clinch the league's first playoff berth. There were no champagne baths for the Galaxy after being the first team to clinch an MLS playoff berth.
With several players admitting that the team had clinched long ago, Donovan even admitted that he had "forgot" about the milestone as Los Angeles have broader ambitions.
"I think that was a foregone conclusion at this point," said defender Todd Dunivant. "We're looking to the Supporters Shield. [Clinching a playoff berth] is not our focus. That wasn't our main goal this year. That's obviously something we wanted to do, but I think everyone knew we were on our way anyway."
Although Colorado was on the backfoot for much of the match, including a deluge during the first half, the Rapids controlled possession for the first 15 minutes of play. However, the Galaxy were able to regain control due to the fantastic play of midfielder Paolo Cardozo, who was able to open up the game from midfield with a number of scoring chances early.
With the Uruguayan leading the push, the Galaxy were able to strike first in the 36th minute. Off an impressive sequence through the midfield that saw six passes, midfielder Sean Franklin found Donovan waiting inside the box. With the ball at his feet, the Galaxy captain calmly finished the chance and gave Los Angeles their decisive goal against the Rapids.
"It was a big game for us because Colorado came here and they gave us a hard game," said midfielder David Beckham. "It was important that we were on the top of our game and for the most part of the game we were. We got a little sloppy with our passing, but I think overall it was a good performance from us. A professional performance and an important three points."
For Colorado, it was a disappointing match with only one real chance for Colorado as subsitute Sanna Nyassi forced a big save from the Galaxy in the 57th minute. Although the Rapids were shutout for the second time in a row and had great struggles in the first half, there were positives for Colorado.
"The second half was much better for us," said head coach Gary Smith. "I thought we started to show more signs of being the type of team with the qualities we have We certainly had better territorial advantage in the first half. It took a lot of courage and a lot of guile to keep it to one."
The match was full of positives for Los Angeles, but the Galaxy did have their negatives as Juninho went down with a left hamstring injury in the 74th minute. He will have time to rebound from the injury however, as Brazilian midfielder was red carded against LD Alajuelense rendering him unavailable for the match against Morelia.
Although the Juninho injury was a negative, the Galaxy did get a positive from goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts who started his first match since suffering a broken arm in a June 25th match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Jamaican goalkeeper did not see a great deal of action making a pair of saves and helping the Galaxy to their fourteenth shutout this season. In addition to Ricketts return, the Galaxy were able to give forward Robbie Keane 30 minutes of action after extensive travel over the international break.
Both teams will now prepare for matches in the CONCACAF Champions League with the Rapids taking on Mexican side Santos Laguna while the Los Angeles face off against Monarcas Morelia in Mexico. A positive result against the Mexican opponents will help both teams in their goal to advance from the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Of course you do.
Since when is Sean Franklin a midfielder???
I think you mean Cardozo. Lopez didn’t make it off the bench.
Lopez was great – he dropped off of Barret and linked play into the attack, giving the Galaxy the numerical advantage in the central midfield needed to pass around Colorado’s central two (Mastroeni/Larentowicz vs Beckham/Juninho/Lopez). The 4-4-2 is becoming much less popular for the sole reason that’s it’s way to easy to outnumber you in the central midfield and find space between lines. It’s a huge part of the reason the USA, for the most part, didn’t function well in it at the World Cup.
Paolo Cardozo was fantastic. Although Mullen gave it a shot, Rapids were not quick enough to foul him.
When Cardoza was replaced by Keene I just thought damn
Just when you thought LA was strong enough already, our first round draft pick starts to show off. Cardozo was impressive last night and had more shots on goal in 1 half than many teams this weekend will have all game.
cardozo was a beast!
Less than last year, but I still think this Galaxy team is lacking it what it takes to win the MLS Cup….being able to beat the really good teams.
It was true when they lost to Salt Lake in 2009, it was true when they were stopped by Dallas last year, and I think it will be true this year too.
I am hoping it is Seattle that shows me to be correct.
Happy for LA and their accomplishments this season. Hope they get the lump come playoff time, though!
Great, exciting match, esp. first half. I think the story of the night was non-scorer cardozo. As a season ticket holder, I don’t think I’ve ever even noticed him before. Obviously he is loaded with talent. LOADED.