CARSON, Calif. -- Alan Gordon's goal off the bench last August was pivotal as the visiting LA Galaxy rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits for a narrow victory that Bruce Arena called a turning point in their run toward a third MLS Cup title in four seasons.
The big forward did so again Saturday night, coming off the bench and nodding home a corner kick in the 75th minute as LA (3-2-4, 13pts), bringing veterans onto the field late after Arena opted for a makeshift lineup for the first of three games in an eight-day stretch, rallied for a 1-1 draw with the Rapids to extend their StubHub Center unbeaten streak to 27 games.
Gabriel Torres gave Colorado (1-2-6, 9pts) the lead on a 40th-minute breakaway, a rare chance for the Rapids in an often dismal affair, and the Galaxy struggled despite far superior possession to break down the visitors' superbly organized defense all over the field.
Gordon, who earned a reputation for late heroics with the San Jose Earthquakes and tallied four of his five LA goals last season off the bench, was one of four starters Arena left on the bench ahead of matches Wednesday night at Real Salt Lake (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) and next Saturday at FC Dallas (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). He came on in the 72nd minute and found the net three minutes later.
The Galaxy were again without injured captain Robbie Keane and Jose Villarreal, and Juninho,A.J. DeLaGarza and Stefan Ishizaki also headed to the bench -- Juninho and Ishizaki also came on in the second half -- as rookie winger Ignacio Maganto made his MLS debut on the left side of midfield.
Bradford Jamieson was paired with Gyasi Zardes up top, Mika Väyrynen and Rafael Garciateamed up in central midfield with Baggio Husidic moving to the right flank, and Leonardoreturned to the backline after missing four games with a quadriceps injury.
Colorado coach Pablo Mastroeni gave Sam Cronin, coming off a concussion injury, his first start in nearly a month after the midfielder saw a few minutes in Wednesday's road draw against the New York Red Bulls. To make room, Nick LaBrocca moved from a holding position to the right side of midfield, Torres from midfield to striker, and Dominique Badji to the bench after starting three of the previous four matches.
Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, making his return to StubHub after LA sent him to the Rapids in a January trade, attended the game with his family while he rehabs in Southern California following knee surgery.
The Galaxy had most of the ball and the best chances in a humdrum first half, and they had three chances to go ahead before Torres tallied in the 40th minute.
Husidic chipped over onrushing Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin and the crossbar after collecting a long ball over the top from Omar Gonzalez in the 10th minute. Zardes had two good chances, but Irwin parried his blast at the lower-left corner from Väyrynen's feed into the box in the 28th and the forward whiffed in front after a Dan Gargan header in the 34th.
Torres tallied on Colorado's only real opportunity before the break. Gonzalez, at midfield, tried to connect with Husidic on the right, but the ball went straight to Rapids left back Michael Harrington, who sent it first-time behind LA's restraining line, and Torres outsprinted Garcia and Gargan nearly 50 yards before firing past LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Colorado's defensive organization was strong all over the field, and the Galaxy made little of its territorial advantage in the second half before Arena brought on Juninho in the 58th minute, Ishizaki in the 69th and then Gordon.
The equalizer came from an Ishizaki corner kick, with Gordon creating space against O'Neill to head the ball inside the right post.
The Rapids appeared to score a winner in the 83rd minute, when Lucas Pittinari nodded a free kick off the left post, the ball caromed across the goalmouth, and Cronin put away the rebound. But Pittinari was just ahead of LA's defense before the first shot, and an offside flag kept things even.
The Rapids are home Friday night against San Jose in a nationally televised match (10 pm ET, UDN).
LA Galaxy 1, Colorado Rapids 1
Saturday, May 2, 2015 – 7:30 p.m. PT
MLS Regular Season
StubHub Center – Carson, California
COL – Gabriel Torres (unassisted) 40’
LA – Alan Gordon (assisted by Stefan Ishizaki) 75’
LA – Dan Gargan (caution) 13’
COL – Nick LaBrocca (caution) 25’ LA – Robbie Rogers (caution) 82’
COL – James Riley (caution) 88’
LA Galaxy: Jaime Penedo; Dan Gargan, Leonardo, Omar Gonzalez ©, Robbie Rogers; Mike Vayrynen (Juninho 58’), Rafael Garcia (Stefan Ishizaki 69’), Baggio Husidic, Ignacio Maganto (Alan Gordon 72’); Bradford Jamieson IV, Gyasi Zardes.
Substitutions not used: Brian Rowe, Tommy Meyer, A.J. DeLaGarza, Raul Mendiola.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 1.
Colorado Rapids: Clint Irwin, Michael Harrington, James Riley, Axel Sjoberg, Shane O’Neill, Dillon Powers (Vicente Sanchez 84’), Nick LaBrocca (Dominique Badji 62’), Juan Ramirez (Dillon Serna 75’), Lucas Pittinari, Sam Cronin ©, Gabriel Torres.
Substitutions not used: Ben Newnam, Jared Watts, Zac MacMath, Charles Eloundou.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5; SHOTS ON GOAL: 2; FOULS: 18; OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 2.
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson and Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Kevin Stott