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Preview: Rapids, Galaxy ride streaks into DSG Park

Colorado vs. LA Galaxy

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
7 p.m. MT (Altitude; FS-W)
June 18, 2011 (WEEK 14; MLS Game 135)

Two teams riding lengthy unbeaten streaks meet at Dick's Sporting Goods Park when the Colorado Rapids entertain the LA Galaxy. The Rapids ended their league-record run of draws — and extended their undefeated streak to nine — with a late 1-0 win against Portland last weekend. The Galaxy stretched their unbeaten run to eight games, but only with a draw as Toronto FC snatched a late 2-2 draw at The Home Depot Center.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Bill Dittmar; JAR (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 44 games; FC/gm: 25.3; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 8; pens: 8

INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS — DOUBTFUL: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); MF Joseph Nane (R shoulder strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain) ... LA GALAXY — OUT: DF Sean Alvarado (R knee surgery); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Juninho (L ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Landon Donovan (USA); Donovan Ricketts (Jamaica)
SUSPENDED: COL: Brian Mullan (through June 18)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA:David Beckham
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Conor Casey, Tyrone Marshall, Pablo Mastroeni, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace ... LA: Juninho

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (54 meetings): Rapids 21 wins (1 shootout), 65 goals ... Galaxy 27 wins (2 shootout), 84 goals ... Ties 6
AT COL (27 meetings): Rapids 15 wins (0 shootout), 36 goals ... Galaxy 8 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals ... Ties 4
RETURN MATCH: 9/9: LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 8 p.m. PT (FOX Soccer)

LAST YEAR (MLS)
5/5: COL 0, LA 1 (Gordon 21)
10/16: LA 1, COL 3 (Buddle 9 — own goal 18; Casey 30; Cummings 67)
•    The road team won each of two meetings between the teams last year. The Rapids have defeated the Galaxy on each of their last two trips to The Home Depot Center.
•    LA's win in Denver last year was the Galaxy's first in a league match there since 2002. But the Galaxy did win the 2005 Western Conference Championship at Mile High Stadium.
•    Coaches record: Gary Smith vs. LA: P5 W2 L2 D1 ... Bruce Arena vs. COL: P16 W9 L5 D2

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids put an end to their consecutive draw streak in dramatic fashion, getting a stoppage-time goal for a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. The Rapids have 22 points from 15 games, sitting in a tie for third place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Rapids snatched the late winner in stoppage time. Jamie Smith served in a set piece from the left, and Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins stopped two attempts from close range from the resulting melee. But the ball bounced back to Drew Moor and he stabbed it home from the heart of the area.
•    Rapids head coach Gary Smith made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 tie with Philadelphia Union at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Scott Palguta came in at fullback for Anthony Wallace, and Caleb Folan replaced Andre Akpan.
•    COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Drew Moor, Tyrone Marshall, Scott Palguta - Wells Thompson, Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith - Conor Casey (Quincy Amarikwa 75), Caleb Folan.

TEAM NEWS
•    The Rapids ended their consecutive draw streak at six just in the nick of time in the win at Portland. The six straight with a draw was the most ever in a single MLS season, and equaled the mark set by San Jose over the conclusion of the 2004 season and the start of 2005.
•    "Of course drawing six games on the spin — especially with some home games in there — is something we'd have like to take more advantage of," said Gary Smith. "But all in all, I think we've performed well, given some tough circumstances."
•    The Rapids return home trying now to reverse a five-game winless run in Commerce City. Colorado last won at home April 3, vs. D.C. United.
•    "We hate giving away points at home. A draw on the road you're OK with, depending on how the game goes," said Drew Moor. "Six straight ties hardly ever happens, but it's always nice to get three points, especially on the road."
•    The win in Portland did extend the club's unbeaten streak to nine games, a club record, passing the previous of mark of eight set April 25 — June 24, 2009. The Rapids are also unbeaten in five in a row on the road, also a club record.
•    "We've had moments in some of our home games where we've gone in front and with a little bit more composure we might have just held onto that lead but, all in all, of course, I'm very, very pleased we can keep our unbeaten run going and add a win to that now," Smith said.
•    Moor's goal was his second of the season, both scored from free kicks, after also netting May 14 vs. D.C. United. Five of Colorado's last eight goals have come from dead ball situations — four from free kicks and one from the penalty spot.
•    "Fortunately for us we found a way, from a wonderful delivery, to get onto some second-phase ball and grab the three points," said Smith.

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy extended their unbeaten streak to eight games, but not the way they wanted, falling into a late 2-2 draw with Toronto FC on Saturday at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy have 31 points from 17 games on the season, leading the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Galaxy opened the scoring after just two minutes. Freed all alone in the TFC half, Miguel LÛpez slipped a pass to the right side of the box, where an unmarked Chris Birchall raced in fire it home off TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
•    But Toronto FC pulled even in the 68th minute. Danleigh Borman placed a perfect cross to the front of the goal from the left and Alan Gordon smashed a header past Josh Saunders.
•    As the game turned into stoppage time, from a scramble in the area, a blocked shot deflected up into the air and Juan Pablo Angel stepped into a full-blooded drive from the heart of the box that got through the bodies in the box and into the goal.
•    Yet TFC wasn't done. A long ball into the box was headed by Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza -- but fell right to Gordon, and he hit a first-time volley into the upper right corner of the goal to salvage a point for the Canadians.
•    Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with D.C. United at The Home Depot Center. Michael Stephens and Juan Pablo Angel came into the side, for Juninho and Mike Magee.
•    LA GALAXY (4-1-3-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant - David Beckham - Chris Birchall, Miguel Lopez (Paolo Cardozo 82), Michael Stephens (Bryan Jordan 82) - Juan Pablo Angel, Chad Barrett (Mike Magee 71).

TEAM NEWS
•    The Galaxy saw their shutout streak come to an end at 479 minutes, the second-longest in MLS this season (behind FC Dallas' 521 minutes) and the second-longest in club history, after a 521-minute stretch from the end of 2009 and the start of 2010.
•    "We still need to sharpen some things up. We talked about it the whole year that's probably like one of the last things that we need, the final third, to make smart passes," said Sean Franklin. "I think if we focus on it we will be fine for the rest of the season."
•    The Galaxy have allowed four goals in the final 10 minutes of games that have cost them points. LA has given up late goals at D.C. United, at FC Dallas, at Philadelphia and vs. Toronto FC, costing the team seven possible points.
•    "That is very uncharacteristic of us, but it has been a little bit too characteristic of us this year. It was a great finish, but those kinds of things happen to you when you do not really play all that well," said fullback Todd Dunivant. "... It is two games in a row where we kind of let ourselves down and those kind of plays go against you when you are not playing at your best."
•    Birchall's goal was his first for the club in league play. The only other time he'd hit the back of the net since joining the team in 2009 was in a preseason friendly against Puntarenas of Costa Rica.
•    "It's been a long time coming," he said. "The guys have been giving me a little stick, but a few people tonight said I'd get my goal."
•    The Galaxy had a different look in midfield with David Beckham playing behind Miguel Lopez in the center of the park, but Beckham admitted the pair was "getting in each other's ways at times."
•    "We have got depth in the squad where different players can play in different formations. We are probably still trying to find out what is our best formation. We have lost Juninho and Landon tonight, two influential players, but we have got good players to fill in," said Birchall. "We passed it around but we gave it away a bit too much in positions where we did not want to."
•    Juan Pablo Angel returned to the lineup after missing two games to injury and scored his third goal of the season.
•    "Those goals are very important, especially that late in the game. I thought it was the winning goal, so meant a lot," Angel said. "It was a very tight game, we didn't have anything else going and then that freak chance went in and I was very happy, very excited like anybody else on the field. But, unfortunately it wasn't enough."