Pregame Notes: Colorado cling to postseason hopes against LA
COLORADO RAPIDS vs LA GALAXY
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
September 30, 2012 (WEEK 30, MLS Game #292)
4 p.m. PT (Galavisión; Altitude; KDOC)
The Colorado Rapids face a near do-or-die situation when they play host to the LA Galaxy in a matchup of the last two MLS Cup winners on Sunday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids return home knowing they’ll likely have to win to stay in contention for a playoff spot, after coming back for a 2-2 draw at Vancouver last weekend. The Galaxy have already booked their spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, winning a fourth on the trot last weekend in a 4-2 home victory vs. Toronto FC.
REFEREE: Allen Chapman. AR1 (bench): Greg Barkey; AR2 (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Mark Declouet
MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 21.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 1; pens: 2
- COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headaches); FW Edu (R foot contusion); MF Davy Armstrong (personal medical issue); QUESTIONABLE: MF Brian Mullan (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle soreness); FW Conor Casey (R knee soreness); FW Tony Cascio (L ankle sprain) …
- LA GALAXY – OUT: DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (L ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Tyson Wahl … LA: A.J. DeLaGarza, Marcelo Sarvas
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Jaime Castrillon, Jeff Larentowicz, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Martin Rivero … LA: David Beckham, David Junior Lopes
ALL-TIME (58 meetings): Galaxy 31 wins (2 shootout), 92 goals … Rapids 21 wins (1 shootout), 67 goals … Ties 6
AT COLORADO (29 meetings): Rapids 15 wins (0 shootout), 38 goals … Galaxy 9 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals … Ties 4
4/21: COL 1, LA 2 (Cummings 63 – own goal 21; Donovan 39)
9/14: LA 2, COL 0 (Sarvas 15; Wilhelmsson 58)
- The teams are meeting for the third time this year, the second in a span of three weeks. An own goal and a Landon Donovan strike gave the Galaxy a 2-1 win April 21 in Commerce City, before goals from Robbie Keane and Christian Wilhelmsson led LA to a 2-0 win on Sept. 14 at The Home Depot Center.
- The Galaxy have won each of their last three visits to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
- Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. COL: P20 W13 L5 D2 … Oscar Pareja vs. LA: P2 W0 L2 D0
- The Galaxy took a 15th-minute lead on a neat passing sequence. Marcelo Sarvas played a give-and-go with Sean Franklin on the right flank, then squared the ball toward Robbie Keane. He dummied the ball for Landon Donovan, who played a quick through ball to the heart of the box and Keane easily side-footed past Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens.
- Christian Wilhelmsson made his Major League Soccer debut one to remember, after a Sarvas long ball found him racing behind Colorado's backline in the 58th minute. He spun around to avoid two defenders at the top of the box, then fired low from 20 yards off the hands of the outstretched Pickens for the second Galaxy goal.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Christian Wilhelmsson (Hector Jimenez 61), Marcelo Sarvas (Michael Stephens 83), Juninho, Mike Magee - Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan (Edson Buddle 78).
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens - Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata - Jeff Larentowicz (Brian Mullan 74), Hendry Thomas - Jaime Castrillon, Martin Rivero, Tony Cascio (Omar Cummings 41) - Andre Akpan (Conor Casey 63).
The LA Galaxy stretched their winning and unbeaten streaks in league play, cruising to a 4-2 victory against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 49 points from 30 games. STANDINGS
WATCH: Galaxy topple Toronto FC
- The Galaxy took the lead in the 11th minute, after Christian Wilhelmsson was spilled just outside the 18 to the left of goal. Juninho stepped up and curled the ball around the wall and toward the upper-right corner, leaving goalkeeper Freddy Hall flat-footed as it hit the net.
- Juninho doubled the lead in the 33rd minute with a special goal, a first-time blast from about 32 yards that streaked into the upper-right corner. Then three minutes later Robbie Keane made it 3-0, deftly chipping over a goalmouth scrum after Landon Donovan and Magee twisted to deliver passes into the box.
- Just two minutes later, TFC began their fightback. From a throw-in on the right wing, Luis Silva flicked a header toward the far post, where Terry Dunfield had drifted away for an open header inside the six-yard box.
- Toronto FC cut the lead to a goal in the 86th minute when a shot from Silva from the left side of the goal area deflected off defender Omar Gonzalez and over leaping goalkeeper Josh Saunders. But Keane restored the cushion two minutes into stoppage time after juking past Ashtone Morgan in the TFC box and slamming home a low shot.
- Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made no changes to the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-0 at The Home Depot Center.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - Christian Wilhelmsson (Edson Buddle 68), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Mike Magee (Michael Stephens 78) - Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane.
- The Galaxy have won four games in a row, their longest winning streak of the season. Since back-to-back losses June 30-July 4, LA is 10-1-2.
- “In May, this would have been an unlikely scenario, so it's been a terrific run probably of close to 20 games for our team,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “The resurgence has been outstanding. It's a real character test on the group, and not many teams would have positioned themselves where we are right now. Having said that, I think we all understand there's a lot of soccer to be played this season.”
- With the victory, the Galaxy guaranteed their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, now one of three Western Conference clubs (along with San Jose and Real Salt Lake) to have booked their postseason tickets.
- “I think the expectation is that we're going to make the playoffs, at a minimum,” Landon Donovan said. “Regardless of how we started, that's the expectation, so that's good. That's out of the way. We want to keep climbing as high as we can. Obviously, first place is out of the question, but if we can keep this going and [finish] second, that would be a huge boost.”
- Said midfielder Mike Magee: “With the playoff format, you don't want to be in the play-in game. But I think it says a lot to see the form that we've been on in the last two months, I think we’ve only lost one game, and we’re still not top of the league, so I think it shows how poorly we played to start the season.”
- The Toronto FC goal in the first half put an end to the Galaxy’s shutout streak at 351 minutes, the sixth-longest in MLS this season.
- Landon Donovan is now tied for the MLS assist lead with 14, with Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi, after setting up both of Robbie Keane’s goals. “We’re playing Landon back to fitness. I thought Landon’s second half was pretty good tonight. He got moving again, he needed that. The team’s getting better,” said Arena.
- Keane pulled into a tie for second in the MLS Golden Boot standings with his 13th and 14th goals – now with 10 in his last 12 games. Since returning from the European Championships, he has a goal or an assist in 13 of the 15 games that he has played, tallying 11 goals and six assists in that time.
- “He’s very easy to play with. He’s very predictable in a lot of ways, the way he moves, so him and I have a really good understanding. I know how he wants the ball, where he wants it, and it’s on me to make sure I give him the right pass, the right way and the right time,” said Donovan. “He makes it very clear how he wants it done and if I do those things well, he’s going to score goals.”
- Juninho scored two goals vs. Toronto, now with four goals over the last four games – and once again, both were from outside the area. Of the 13 goals Juninho has scored in MLS play, nine have been from outside the penalty area.
- “Whenever he gets it he needs to just shoot. The form he’s in right now is literally like nothing I’ve ever seen, not in practice, not in games, not on TV or anything. Every time he shoots it’s either going in or hitting a post or something,” said Magee. “ … They all look the same, right? Every time he scores a goal it’s like déjà vu. So I don’t know which one is better, but it’s literally bizarre, it’s absolutely bizarre the streak he’s on right now.”
- David Beckham missed a second consecutive league match (also having missed a CONCACAF Champions League fixture) with an ankle sprain suffered in the win vs. Vancouver on Sept. 1. But he says he will be ready for selection this weekend.
- “Still a little bit of discomfort, but it's good to be back on the field. [I was out] three weeks in the end. I wasn't expecting that, but I'm back now. I hope [I can play in Colorado]. Trying to get my fitness back – I was working on fitness while I was injured, but nothing, obviously, like playing games and being in training. Hopefully, I can get out on the field and stay fit this week and be involved,” said Beckham.
- The Galaxy had a season-high 27 attempts at goal, tied for the third-most by a team in a single game this season.
- “I can’t remember the last time I saw an MLS game that had 27 shots for a team and I think we’re just really playing well, really clicking well defensively,” said Donovan. “That’s without one of our most dangerous players on the field in, David. We’re happy with where we are offensively. We’re not happy to give up two goals, but a little fluky and it’s going to happen, but still good to win.”
The Colorado Rapids saw their long road losing streak extended, despite coming back for a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday afternoon at BC Place. The Rapids are in seventh place in the Western Conference with 30 points from 30 games.
WATCH: Rapids, ‘Caps end in stalemate
- The Rapids hit for the opener 34 minutes in. Martin Rivero had beaten Brad Knighton after an unhindered 30-yard run, but his shot smacked the left post before falling kindly to Omar Cummings, who slipped into the open goal.
- But Whitecaps FC took the lead with two goals in a five-minute span. In the 64th minute, Gershon Koffie chased down a deflected corner and juked past Cummings in the right corner before driving a low ball into the goalmouth that Alain Rochat cleverly poked past Matt Pickens from close range.
- Then Kenny Miller gave the Whitecaps the lead in the 68th minute, latching onto a through ball from fellow Designated Player Barry Robson and taking a touch before curling the ball past Pickens.
- But Colorado found an equalizer in the 86th minute, when Jamie Smith latched onto the ball after Rochat and Lee Young-Pyo failed to clear their lines and curled an effort past Knighton from inside the area.
- Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the side that fell to a 2-0 decision to the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Omar Cummings started on the wing in place of Tony Cascio and Conor Casey came in up top for Andre Akpan.
- COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens - Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata - Hendry Thomas (Andre Akpan 82), Jeff Larentowicz - Omar Cummings, Martin Rivero (Jamie Smith 73), Jaime Castrillon - Conor Casey (Joseph Nane 89)
- The Rapids ended their club-record road losing streak at nine games, though their winless streak on their travels still continued, gaining points on the road for the first time since a 2-0 win at FC Dallas on May 6.
- “To be quite honest, I feel that unfortunate feeling again, not getting the three points. Saying that we’re happy to walk away with a point is very difficult,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said postgame. “We’re the best team on the field all game, then in key points we lose concentration, but we had options to put them away in the first half, then again in the second half, we had a couple options to walk away with the three points.”
- Omar Cummings, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time in five matches, scored his first goal since July 14.
- Making his eighth appearance of the season, Jamie Smith scored his first goal since netting on his 2012 debut, June 30 vs. Portland.
- “It was kind of disappointing not to take all three points. We played well enough to do that, created some good chances,” said Smith. “Everyone was fighting for 90 minutes. Picking up a point is better than no points. Overall there’s maybe some disappointment that we should’ve won the game, but we’ll take it.”
- After two matches out of the starting lineup, Conor Casey came back and played 89 minutes as the out-and-out striker.
- For a seventh time this season, the Rapids weren’t able to take the full three points after scoring the first goal (they are 8-5-2 when scoring first). Only three teams have failed to win more times after scoring first (Montréal, Dallas, New England).
- “I think there are many games in the season where we score the [first] goal, and then we create the chances to put the game away, and we always talk about [that] killer instinct, and tonight, we didn’t do it,” Pareja said.
- If Vancouver wins at home vs. Seattle on Saturday evening, a loss to the Galaxy will eliminate the Rapids from playoff consideration.
- “We don’t know what it means yet. We know it was a tie and we wanted a win, so we’re not sure. We’ll see. We fought hard to come back. They came out strong in the second half and it was a pretty even match, but we did well to fight back,” said Jeff Larentowicz. “ … We’ve got to win. We have games at home. Hopefully something can happen. Our next game is a difficult one, but it’s at home so we have to win.”
- “This is a team that doesn’t stop fighting. It would have been very easy to quit for the last 15 minutes after giving away those two goals but the team kept pushing and I think they deserve more than the point we walked away with,” said Pareja. “ … The game has punished us the whole season – we fall asleep and give up one or two goals and then we have to come back and today was the same story that we’ve been carrying all season.”