CARSON, Calif. – The Colorado Rapids found it tough creating chances against an LA Galaxy team missing four key stars, but Edson Buddle needed just one superb shot to give them the points Saturday night at the StubHub Center.
The former Galaxy standout hit the upper-left corner from just beyond the penalty box in the 75th minute to lift Colorado to a 1-0 triumph and keep them in position for a Western Conference postseason berth.
Buddle tallied after Vicente Sanchez stripped Todd Dunivant of the ball on L.A.'s left flank, surged forward, cut inside, spun to avoid a defender and played the ball back to his teammate.
The strike kept Colorado (11-8-9) fourth in the West, six points behind first-place Real Salt Lake, and dropped the Galaxy (13-10-4) from second to third, two points behind Seattle, a 2-1 winner over Chicago.
The Galaxy were shut out for the first time since Colorado's victory in late July, and the defeat was their first at home since May 5.
World Cup qualifying deprived LA of forwards Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, center back Omar Gonzalez and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, and head coach Bruce Arena opted to pair teens Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean up front, insert rookie Kofi Opare next to Leonardo in the middle of the backline, and use Brian Rowe in the nets. Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini again failed to make the 18-man roster, with Brian Perk serving as Rowe's backup.
Buddle got the nod up top in Colorado's 4-2-3-1 alignment with Gabriel Torres off with Panama's national team, and head coach Oscar Pareja shifted several players to compensate for Nathan Sturgis' absence with a gluteal strain as rookie Dillon Powers dropped back into holding midfield, Sanchez moved inside into the attacking-midfield post, and Atiba Harris and Nick LaBrocca were stationed wide.
The Galaxy had more of the game from start to finish, creating a good dozen chances, the best of them a McBean header in the second minute, Marcelo Sarvas' blast off the crossbar in the 34th and a Sarvas shot from the right that Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin slapped away at the upper-right corner in the 78th.
L.A. nearly went ahead in the second minute, but Irwin made an outstanding reaction save on McBean's header at the left post from a Todd Dunivant cross.
Sarvas nearly tallied following a superb sequence in which Villarreal dummied a Dunivant feed for McBean well above Colorado's box, and he curled the ball to Franklin at the right edge of the 18. Franklin played it ahead for Sarvas to run onto, and the Brazilian midfielder abruptly stopped, with LaBrocca racing past.
Sarvas' shot cleared Irwin at the near post but clanged off the underside of the crossbar.
McBean again came close at the start of the second half, getting a touch in the Rapids' box after Villarreal nodded a long Juninho free kick toward him, but an onrushing Irwin tipped it aside, and Dunivant volleyed high as the ball bounced around in front of Colorado's net following a corner kick in the 60th minute.
Buddle's goal was all Colorado needed, thanks to Irwin's stop on Sarvas three minutes later and late headers by Zardes and Villarreal hit right at Irwin.
The Galaxy visit D.C. United next Saturday, while the Rapids are home against FC Dallas.