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Early red card dooms Rapids in Galaxy romp

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles GalaxyPhoto by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports


CARSON, Calif. — Most nights, a game takes ninety minutes to decide. On Friday, it only took one.

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Joe Nasco received a straight red card in the first 30 seconds against the Los Angeles Galaxy for a from-behind takedown of Alan Gordon inside the six-yard box. It set up an early goal for Landon Donovan and the Galaxy never looked back, galloping to a 6-0 victory before an announced crowd of 18,145 at the Stub Hub Center on Friday night.

Donovan was once again the star of the show, as the Galaxy midfielder scored twice and added two assists in the rout. Both of Donovan’s goals came on penalty kicks, bringing his season goal total to nine and extending his MLS scoring record to 143 goals.

With the pair of assists, he now sits on 131 in his career, only four shy of Steve Ralston’s record. Donovan has two assists per game over the last three matches and appears on track to grab the new record by the season’s end, when he will retire.

The Galaxy applied immediate pressure off the opening kickoff, and when Galaxy left back Todd Dunivent whipped a curling cross into the goal mouth, multiple white shirts were waiting to pounce. The Rapid’s Nasco, starting in place of the struggling Clint Irwin, lost control of the ball in a scramble in front of his goal. As the ball squirted behind Nasco, Gordon stepped over the goalkeeper to tap the ball home. But Nasco turned and wrapped both arms around Gordon’s legs to take him down, allowing Colorado defender Thomas Piermayr to clear the ball off the line.

Referee Baldomero Toledo did not hesitate. He blew his whistle, pointed to the spot, and walked directly over to Nasco and showed him the red card.

Donovan easily converted and that was that. Facing 89 minutes to play down a goal with only ten men, Colorado capitulated to the streaking Galaxy. In the end, the Rapids allowed six goals on twenty shots, while managing only six shots of their own on the evening, four of which came within the space of a few minutes midway through the second half.

“I’m not sure we planned it that way,” Donovan said of the early red card. “But when you put teams under pressure, they make mistakes. We’ve been talking all year about getting good crosses in front of the goal, and making good runs in front of the goal. Gyasi and Gordo made excellent runs in front of the goal, Todd hit a great cross in front of the goal, and when you do that, good things happen.”

Gyasi Zardes donated a brace of goals as well, one in each half. The two goals give him 14 on the season and perhaps add to the case that Jurgen Klinsmann was wrong to overlook the striker in the current round of USMNT call ups. Zardes’ first goal was particularly thrilling, coming on the end of a 16-pass buildup, and culminating with a Zardes dummy and spin move that allowed Donovan to send Zardes in alone on Irwin to net home.

“My teammates are helping me,” Zardes said after the match. “Landon, he’s a phenomenal player, and I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from him. As you can see, in recent games, he’s been the one giving me the assists for all my goals. I’m just trying to build off that.”

Baggio Husidic also scored twice, his first brace of goals ever in a professional uniform. As with all the other Galaxy goals in the run of play on the evening, Husidic both times found himself on the end of long strings of Galaxy possession. He doubled the Galaxy lead in the 30th minute, receiving a 14th consecutive Galaxy pass before beating Irwin low far post.

It was not a perfect evening for the Galaxy. Left back Todd Dunivant was stretchered off in the 25th minute after a Nick La Brocca tackle sent him flying. Dunivant, a stalwart for the past five seasons on Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena’s back line, missed three months of the season due to an abdominal tear that required surgery, and appeared to be clutching the same area of his body as he left left the field.

At the time, the Galaxy still held only a one goal lead. But with the Galaxy defense so depleted with injury, along with the absence of defender A.J. De La Garza, Arena brought on a fifth midfielder and went with a three-man back line for the remainder of the evening. The strategy, though born out of necessity, worked as the Galaxy held possession for over 74 percent of the match, and completed a staggering 91 percent of their passes on the night.

“Our injuries this year have really been in the back, and we’re just hanging on with bodies right now” said Arena after the game. “But being able to win six games in a row, and being positioned where we are, we feel good about that, but we want to continue to get better.”

De la Garza missed the match amid news earlier in the day that he and his wife Megan lost their newborn son, Luca, to complications from a congenital heart condition. De la Garza’s return to the Galaxy is unknown. The Galaxy dedicated their performance Friday to Luca, wearing black armbands stitched with his name.

“We’re just heartbroken for our teammate, our friend Megan, and their family,” Donovan said. “I think we wanted to play well. We had a feeling that they would all be watching. It doesn’t take away from the pain they’re feeling, but maybe it put a few smiles on their faces in a period of three or four days where they’ve had no smiles and a lot of tears.”

The Galaxy have now won five games in a row and sit in second place in the Western Conference, two points behind the Seattle Sounders. That could change on Wednesday night, when the Galaxy travel to Montreal to take on the Impact. With a win, the Galaxy would take over first place in the West, and could take the lead in the Supporter’s Shield race as well.

For the Colorado Rapids, the wheels may now be officially off. The loss is their seventh in a row, and a spot in the MLS playoffs is receding into the distance. The Rapids will return home to face the Portland Timbers on Sept. 13th.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. Pablo, you keep trotting out the same lineup week-in and week-out, with the same results…another loss. Stop playing Labrocca, play the sole DP on the roster, and tell Kroenke he needs to spend some cash if the team is going to compete.

  2. alan gordon has made all the difference for the Galaxy. The type of hold up player who works hard and makes things happen in the box, and he also has been flourishing in combination play, and provides depth when zardes or keane needs a rest.

  3. Seemed like a mid-week scrimmage. It was so easy for the Galaxy to move the ball around this game and the past few games. Plus Gordon has made a nice impact with the team. Team is playing for each other, hustling and winning the second ball. Awesome to watch. “Viva Galaxy”

  4. Juninho and Marcelo have been getting it done throughout the summer for the most part and Husidic has played his 3 best games for the Galaxy in the last 3 games.

    • Chicken or the egg.

      Better talent + Higher attendance + Stronger TV viewership = Better talent, Higher attendance and Stronger TV viewership

  5. 20K “announced attendance” on a Friday night. Really????

    At some point, it will be nice to watch an MLS game on TV (outside the northwest) where the stands are not just 1/2 full.

  6. Too bad about the first penalty & red card to start the game. Unfortunately, it was completely warranted. Gordon had the ball and no one in between him and the goal. Nasco grabbed Gordon’s leg to prevent him from getting any power on his shot. Classic case of DOGSO.

    The second penalty was a bit soft though. That said, Klute made a mental error leading to the penalty.

  7. Pardon my confusion, but what does the author mean when he says, “Jurgen Klinsmann was wrong to not include Zardes in the current round of Usmnt call ups”?

    No MLS field players were called in vs CR…
    Has Klinsmann already announced his roster for the October games?
    What am I missing here?

    • Good point. All I can think of, is that after Jozy their was not really any other forward. Hopefully he gets a look in October but if he does not it might be a case of Bruce not wanting to release his whole team for friendlies.

    • Yea, I find that a bit odd, too.

      Maybe Mark is just trying to stir the pot for the fringe lunatics that regularly chastise Jurgen for breathing the air they breathe.

    • Yes you are confused, your quote is wrong to start with and the ‘perhaps add to the case of’ was clearly a little tongue in cheek. Calm down over there.

  8. Pretty impressed by Zardis’ awareness of the players around him. At least on the 2nd & 3rd goals. Didnt see the game, so hard to evaluate thru highlights only. But encouraging from him. Is he USMNT eligible?

    • Zardes is a Homegrown player, born in Hawthorn, CA. So, yes, very much USMNT eligible.

      As for the Galaxy, they are playing some of the most dominant soccer I’ve ever seen in MLS. Scores aside, if you review the stats from the current run, they are utterly overpowering everybody. Last night, not only were they missing AJ, but Keane and Penedo as well to international duty. But they didn’t miss a beat. Every game looks like a masterclass right now. They are confident to the point of arrogance, aggressive, fast and accurate. And, it seems, unstoppable. Until, perhaps, they play the Sounders back to back the last two games of the season.

      • We’ve all got those days circled on our calendars. The way LA and Seattle are playing, the SS may very well come down to those two games.

  9. Granted, the red card helped, but the build-up on some of these goals is impressive. Does Bruce have the team peaking at the right time….

    • I honestly beklieve it’s a bit early, BUT, two things give me hope as a Galaxy fan: no Keane right now so that’ll be a boost eventually, and, with Lando doing his swan song I feel like this time might be a little different.

      Perhaps it’s just the optimist in me, but something about this year feels different, the team feels more like the real deal than they have in years….we’ll see

      • I agree with you. The level of chemistry with which the Gs are playing right now is impressive. They’re scoring heaps of goals, giving up very few. And goals are coming from many goal scorers – not just Keane, as was the case last season.

        The only glaring issue is the injuries. Our back line has been cursed this season. Gotta hope Riley and Rogers are fit to share the outside back role.

    • Except for stinking up Columbus, since they trounced Seattle a while back they have been playing about as well as any Galaxy team I can remember. Their quick passing and movement off the ball is just a beautiful thing to watch. It’s how the game should be played. It’s like when Arsenal were in their heyday with Henry, Viera, Pires, et al. You know, Bruce Arena is a pretty good coach and he has the team playing extremely well. Also, Donovan has obviously set his mind on catching Steve Ralston for the career assist record and his play making has been superb. Maybe his best pass didn’t result in a goal, but he made a perfect 30 yard pass on the ground, threading two defenders right to his teammate’s feet. Sadly, no one on the USMNT in the WC showed the play making and passing that Donovan has been showing for the last month or two.


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