LA Galaxy 1, Colorado Rapids 0 | 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap
The Colorado Rapids' highly-touted defense held firm for much of the 90 minutes, but it was not enough to stop the LA Galaxy from finding the back of the net and taking a lead in their Western Conference Semifinal series.
The Galaxy used a headed goal from Giovani dos Santos in the 55th minute to beat the Rapids, 1-0, at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Sunday. Dos Santos scored the game-winner that put LA ahead in the series after some great individual work from center back Jelle Van Damme, who nutmegged Micheal Azira before hitting a cross that dos Santos nodded home thanks to a deflection from Axel Sjoberg.
Colorado responded by nearly finding an equalizer through substitute midfielder Jermaine Jones four minutes later, but his shot from distance was denied spectacularly by Brian Rowe to keep LA in the driver's seat.
- TIGHT AFFAIR: Many observers predicted this game to be a tight one, and it was exactly that. There were not many clear-cut chances as both defenses stood tall, especially in the first half, and the two sides combined for just five shots on target on the day. The Colorado Rapids were the worse of the two in that regard, as they put just one shot on frame while struggling to generate much of anything in the attack. Colorado's insertion of Jermaine Jones at halftime helped to add some punch in the final third, but it was not enough.
- MAGICAL MOMENT: The Galaxy may have had the better of the game's chances, but it took a special play from Jelle Van Damme to help break the deadlock and open things up a bit. In the 55th after having a shot blocked to the left, Van Damme raced to the ball and smoothly nutmegged Micheal Azira to create a clear passing lane in the penalty area. The Belgian defender then picked out Giovani dos Santos with a cross to the near post, giving Van Damme an assist to complement his strong defensive outing.
- KEANE SUB: Galaxy forward Robbie Keane is used to being an automatic starter, but he wasn't on Sunday. Keane was left off the bench while Alan Gordon got the nod from head coach Bruce Arena, and the Designated Player played only eight minutes after being inserted as a substitute late in the second half. Whether Arena goes with Gordon over Keane for next week's decisive leg is unknown, but it is sure to be a topic of much debate this week.
- Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy (Sunday, November 6; Time and Broadcast TBD)