MLS Match Preview: LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids

LA vs. COL, March 23, 2013

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USA TODAY Sports

LA GALAXY vs COLORADO RAPIDS
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.

March 23, 2013 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #32)
7:30 p.m. PT (TWCSN-LA/TWCD; Altitude)

The LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids renew their long-time Western Conference acquaintances when the clubs meet Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are still undefeated on the season, though they were pulled back into a late draw by Chivas USA in the first SuperClásico of the season last weekend. The Rapids are still looking for their first win of 2013, coming away from Real Salt Lake with a 1-1 draw last Saturday. 

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REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Kevin Stott MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 2.8; R: 5; pens: 3 

DISABLED LIST: none

SUSPENDED: none

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Robbie Keane (Rep. of Ireland; vs. Sweden); Omar Gonzalez (USA; vs. Costa Rica) 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (59 meetings): Galaxy 31 wins (2 shootout), 93 goals … Rapids 21 wins (1 shootout), 68 goals … Ties 7

AT LA (29 meetings): Galaxy 21 wins (1 shootout), 59 goals … Rapids 6 wins (1 shootout), 29 goals … Ties 2

RETURN MATCHES: 7/27: Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy, 7 p.m. MT; 9/7: LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. PT 

LAST YEAR (MLS):

4/21: COL 2, LA 1 (Cummings 63 -- own goal 21; Donovan 39)

9/14: LA 2, COL 0 (Keane 15; Wilhelmsson 58)

9/30: COL 1, LA 1 (Castrillon 16 -- Sarvas 10) 

  • The Galaxy are undefeated against the Rapids over the last two seasons. The Galaxy had won four in a row between the teams before a 1-1 draw in Commerce City in the last meeting on Sept. 30.
  • The Rapids last defeated the Galaxy at home in 2008. In the five meetings since at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, LA has won three, with two draws.
  • Colorado came away from The Home Depot Center on back-to-back trips to face the Galaxy in 2009 and 2010, before LA home wins each of the last two seasons.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. COL: P21 W15 L5 D3 … Oscar Pareja vs. LA: P3 W0 L2 D1 

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy were minutes away from opening defense of their title with maximum points from two matches, before Chivas USA scored a late equalizer for a 1-1 draw Sunday at The Home Depot Center.

LAST MATCH

  • Chivas went a man down late in the first half under strange circumstances when Joaquin Velázquez was sent off, referee Ricardo Salazar first showing a yellow card, then the red, following a challenge on Galaxy winger Colin Clark.
  • The Galaxy finally took advantage in the 83rd minute when Jack McBean got his head to a deflected ball from Mike Magee from close range, as goalkeeper Dan Kennedy got a hand to the ball but couldn't keep it out.
  • But Chivas were able to snatch a share of the points when Carlos Álvarez tapped home a low cross through the box from Carlos Borja in the 89th minute for the leveller.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made one change to the team that opened the 2013 season with a 4-0 win against the Chicago Fire at The Home Depot Center. Jose Villarreal came into the side in place of Leonardo.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Carlo Cudicini - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant (Michael Stephens 77) - Mike Magee, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Colin Clark (Leonardo 46) - Jose Villarreal (Jack McBean 64), Robbie Keane. 

TEAM NEWS

  • After winning for the second time at home in two matches in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal at midweek, the Galaxy saw their perfect home record slip away late. They are still undefeated across all competitions in 2013.
  • “Not playing well. It has nothing to do with fitness. We played a game on Wednesday, obviously. It was a little bit of a difficult week for us this time of year, but we didn’t play well. Our passing was poor. We didn’t play well today,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.
  • Homegrown Player Jack McBean has now made four appearances in league games – and has scored two goals, after netting vs. Chivas USA. McBean’s first professional goal came in his debut, in 2011 at Houston.
  • “Jack did well. It was going to take an ugly goal, honestly,” said Arena. “They had everyone behind the ball. It wasn’t going to be easy. Our passing wasn’t good today. Our playing in and around the penalty area wasn’t good. It’s not surprising that the goal was going to look like that.”
  • With center back Omar Gonzalez away on international duty, Leonardo is expected to slot back into central defense alongside A.J. DeLaGarza.
  • “We all know our roles and how the system works and the philosophy that we preach here,” DeLaGarza said, “so it shouldn't change too much.”
  • Goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini was beaten for the first time in a league match with the Galaxy.
  • “We didn’t express our best soccer today, for sure, but we managed to score a goal that would have gotten us the three points. So, to concede a late goal like that, of course, really hurts,” Cudicini said. “ … When you’re up with three or four minutes to go you just have to keep the ball. I hope that’s a lesson that we learn.”
  • Jose Villarreal was given the start in attack, with Mike Magee moving back to a wide midfield role. Magee could reprise his role as a striker with Robbie Keane away on international duty with Ireland.
  • “I just think today was a test of character. We definitely failed,” Magee said. “In the first half, we had all kinds of chances to play better and kind of match their fight, and we didn't really do it. When we finally get the goal after all that, we have a couple minute to kind of close out the game. ... To give one back is very disappointing.” 

COLORADO RAPIDS 

The Colorado Rapids took their first point from three matches on the new season, traveling to Real Salt Lake and coming away with a 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.

LAST MATCH

  • The Rapids suffered an early blow when goalkeeper Matt Pickens suffered a fractured forearm just four minutes into the match, and was replaced by debutant Clint Irwin, playing in his first professional match.
  • Colorado then took the lead midway through the opening half. Deshorn Brown picked the pocket of RSL center back Chris Schuler at the top of the area and broke in alone on RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando before calmly placing a right-footed shot to the back post.
  • But Irwin, who made two stops on the day, was finally beaten 10 minutes from time when Alvaro Saborío placed a right-footed shot from a tight angle on the right side of the box inside the far post for the equalizer.
  • Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made one change to the team that fell 2-1 to Philadelphia Union at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Tony Cascio came into the side in place of Pablo Mastroeni.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-4-1): Matt Pickens (Clint Irwin 7) - Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Diego Calderon, Brian Mullan - Hendry Thomas - Atiba Harris, Dillon Powers, Kevin Harbottle (Nick LaBrocca 65), Tony Cascio - Deshorn Brown (Jamie Smith 80).

TEAM NEWS

  • While it was a first point of the new season for the Rapids, they are still looking for a first victory of the year.
  • “We defended well. I thought our discipline tactically today was a highlight for the team,” said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. “We are proud of them. We push that discipline is the standard point. The options were ours, the chances were there, and we had many opportunities to put the game away and we did not. But we walk away with a point from Salt Lake with the sensation that it could be three points.”
  • Said defender Drew Moor: “We didn’t want to just play defense, which clearly we didn’t; we created a bunch of chances even after they scored. I thought we had one or two very good chances where we could have won it, but being solid and even being difficult to play against was the No. 1 goal and I thought we achieved that.”
  • The Rapids suffered a blow when goalkeeper Matt Pickens suffered a fractured left forearm in just the fourth minute of the RSL match. Pickens will be out an expected 3-4 months.
  • Clint Irwin made his professional debut, making three saves after coming on in relief of Pickens. Irwin last played with Charlotte in USL PRO before being signed over the offseason.
  • “For me it’s a great performance. We have been trying to develop the philosophy that training and preparation means a lot, and he has been working very hard, and we decided that he deserved to be No. 2, and that’s the game,” said Pareja.
  • Irwin was on the substitutes’ bench ahead of Steward Ceus, who started the first match of the season, a 1-0 loss at FC Dallas where the game’s lone goal was scored from a long ball that bounced over the goalkeeper’s head.
  • “Good teams are built on the competition for spots,” Irwin said. “The coaches didn’t really tell me anything about the future, they just told me I had a good game.”
  • After setting up the Rapids first goal of the season the week before, rookie Deshorn Brown scored his first professional goal.
  • One of the things that we are proud of as a club is that the club is becoming younger with approximately four boys that are coming from the draft or coming from the academy, and those things are going to be a reward for the club at some point,” said Pareja. “When you see Deshorn scoring and getting his first MLS goal it’s fantastic. I know there are many more to come from him.”
  • While Colorado will not be affected by any international call-ups this weekend, they could have a surprise returnee in Pablo Mastroeni, who missed the RSL match after suffering a hamstring strain very early on in the Philadelphia game.
  • “Pablo surprised me, to be quite honest, because his recovery has been very good,” Pareja said. “I think we are in a good direction with his rehab.” Said Mastroeni: “I’m targeting [returning] Saturday for sure.”