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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
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11/30 9:20pm
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LA
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Western Conference Championship
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11/23 FINAL
1NY
2NE
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11/29 3:00pm
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NY
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Eastern Conference Championship

Earls could have an edge on Rapids' rotating back line

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Defender Danny Earls made his first start of the season during Colorado’s 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday night, giving the club a fresh option to fill a position with which they’ve struggled so far this year.

Earls — who was traded to Seattle a day after the Rapids won the MLS Cup last November but was eventually waived before returning Colorado — started 15 games last season and has battled Anthony Wallace and Scott Palguta for the top job at left back this year.

He logged all 90 minutes on Saturday while Wallace and Palguta sat, largely because of a work ethic that has put him back in the mix in Colorado.

“I’m working hard this year,” Earls said after the match. "I’ve kept my head down and Gary [Smith] rewarded me because he’s seen me working hard. I thought I did OK tonight from a personal standpoint, brought some energy to the team. Maybe my final ball could have been better, but I thought it was OK.”

Head coach Smith admitted the left back is spot is still a troublesome one for the Rapids, but that Earls did the job admirably in his first appearance of the season.

“My overriding decision to play Danny was that I just thought on this occasion that he’s looked very bright, he’s looked hungry,” Smith said. “He had maybe a difficult 10 minutes in the second half but, all in all, I thought he gave an awful lot and in no way was at fault for any of the goals.”

Since losing Jordan Harvey to Philadelphia in the Expansion Draft ahead of the 2010 season, there have been opportunities for several players at left back. Earlier this year, Smith was tracking Martin John of English Championship side Cardiff City for a possible move to the Rapids.

“I don’t feel comfortable at the moment with one person,” Smith said. “And that’s taking nothing away from any of those individuals. They all give something different. Scott’s very strong, Anthony [Wallace] is very athletic. I think Danny’s distribution out of all of them might just edge it.”

Earls, meanwhile, might have more to prove than anyone in the group, after getting traded after a championship season.

“Any player is going to take some sort of knock falling out of the team like I did last year, but we get paid to be professional and work every day,” he said. “I feel I’ve matured a lot. If I’m not in the team, I’m working like I am in the team. You have to take your chances.”