COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Try as they might, there was nothing separating the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy Sunday night.
With on team fighting for playoff survival and the other for seeding, the Rapids and Galaxy played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, further complicating the LA’s position in the Western Conference playoff picture while leaving the Rapids once again on the brink of elimination from postseason contention.
Two early goals – one from Marcelo Sarvas’ 10th-minute blast and the other on a neat 16th-minute finish from the Rapids’ Jamie Castrillon – set the tone for an high-powered contest filled with numerous chances for both sides, although Colorado had several chances to come away from three points in the second half. Galaxy ‘keeper Josh Saunders’ leaping save on a close-range Drew Moor header in the 80th minute kept the Rapids from collecting all three points.
The draw kept the Galaxy from passing Real Salt Lake for the second spot in the Western Conference, but moved them a point ahead of the Sounders for the three seed. With three games to go in the regular season, LA are a point behind RSL for the second spot in the West and were mathematically eliminated from overtaking the Earthquakes for the top seed in the conference.
Meanwhile, the Rapids’ postseason hopes continue to hang on by a thread, as the draw leaves them eight points behind the fifth-place Whitecaps with only three games to go.
It didn’t take long for the goals to begin flowing on a mild evening in suburban Denver. In the 10th minute, after Robbie Keane’s shot was blocked by two Rapids defenders, the rebound fell to Sarvas, who drilled a shot from the top of the 18-yard box into the top corner for his second goal of the season.
But six minutes later the Rapids had their reply. After Hunter Freeman intercepted a Galaxy pass, the right back stormed up the field and sent a low cross into the penalty box for Castrillon. The Colombian cleanly finished for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Later in the first half, Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza was forced to leave with what was initially diagnosed as a left knee sprain. But aside from the injury, there was no break in the action during the opening 45 minutes as both sides combined for 18 shots.
That back-and-forth play continued into the second half, with the Rapids creating most of the chances. Rapids striker Omar Cummings’ turn and shot from 25-yards out was barely tipped away by Saunders in the 52nd minute. Fifteen minutes later, the Rapids begged for a call on Castrillon’s awkward tumble in the box, but referee Allen Chapman waved play on, and Saunders provided late heroics for the visitors with his fingertip save on Moor.
The Galaxy next host Real Salt Lake in a critical showdown on Saturday at the Home Depot Center (9 pm ET, NBC Sports), while the Rapids stay at home to host the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes (9 pm ET, MLS Live).
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Josh Saunders||Made the saves needed when it counted, none more important than the instinctive block on Drew Moor's late header.|
|2||Matt Pickens||His kick save on Robbie Keane kept a sure goal out, and helped marshall a defense that kept LA on its toes.|
|3||Marcelo Sarvas||Coming into his own as Juninho's partner at d-mid, Sarvas was all over the field. Perfect strike on the goal as well.|