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Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy | MLS Match Preview

COLORADO RAPIDS vs LA GALAXY
DICK’S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
May 3, 2014 (WEEK 9, MLS Game #75)
7 pm MT (Altitude; TWCSN-LA/TWCD)

Two teams in the middle of the Western Conference table despite bright starts meet when the Colorado Rapids take on the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids saw their undefeated run come to an end after three games last weekend, dropping a 4-1 decision at Seattle Sounders FC. The Galaxy have played fewer games than any club in MLS, now four games without a loss following their 2-2 draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC two weeks ago.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. AR1 (bench): Bill Dittmar; AR2 (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Younes Marrakchi
MLS Career: 102 games; FC/gm: 24.4; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 18; pens: 15

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: none
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (62 meetings): Rapids 23 wins (1 shootout), 71 goals … Galaxy 32 wins (2 shootout), 94 goals … Ties 7
AT COLORADO (31 meetings): Rapids 16 wins (0 shootout), 41 goals … Galaxy 10 wins (1 shootout), 34 goals … Ties 5
RETURN MATCHES: 8/20: Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy, 7 p.m. MT; 9/5: LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m. PT

LAST YEAR (MLS)
3/23: LA 1, COL 0 (Magee 50)
7/27: COL 2, LA 0 (Thomas 41; Powers 47)
9/7: LA 0, COL 1 (Buddle 75)

  • The Rapids have won last two meetings between the teams, ending a six-game winless streak over the previous two-plus seasons. Colorado’s last win vs. the Galaxy had come in 2010.
  • Colorado’s win last July 27 was its first vs. LA at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since 2008. The Rapids then won Sept. 7 at StubHub Center, their first win in Carson vs. the Galaxy since 2010.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. COL: P24 W17 L6 D3 … Pablo Mastroeni vs. LA: first game

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids had their undefeated streak put to an end after three games, Seattle Sounders FC rolling to a 4-1 win on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field. The Rapids are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 11 points from seven games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sounders FC opened the scoring just before the halftime whistle. A through ball from Obafemi Martins put Clint Dempsey in alone on goal. He rounded goalkeeper Clint Irwin and sent in a shot from a tight angle. Rapids defender Drew Moor was able to get just enough of the ball to keep it out of the net, but his block went right to Lamar Neagle, who smashed it into the net.
  • Seattle made it 2-0 in the 47th minute. A Clint Dempsey back-heeled flick gave Marco Pappa an open look from about 10 yards out. Irwin made a diving save on the initial attempt, but the rebound went right to Dempsey for a simple tap-in.
  • It was 3-0 just five minutes when Pappa put it in a corner that Chad Marshall headed back toward goal, where Dempsey was waiting near the top of the goal area, and he then looped his header over a stranded Irwin.
  • The Rapids made it 3-1 in the 62nd minute when Dillon Serna scored his first professional goal, finishing off a through ball from Nick LaBrocca with a low shot in the penalty area.
  • But Sounders FC put the match away 13 minutes when Martins took a quick throw-in from Neagle, made a quick move to free up some space and slotted the ball inside the far post from the left side of the box.
  • Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni made four changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Nathan Sturgis, Jose Mari, Gabriel Torres and Dillon Serna all came into the team, in place of Jared Watts, Dillon Powers, Vicente Sanchez and Deshorn Brown.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Clint Irwin - Thomas Piermayr, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Nathan Sturgis (Marlon Hairston 56), Jose Mari (Jared Watts 71) - Nick LaBrocca, Gabriel Torres, Dillon Serna - Edson Buddle (Deshorn Brown 59).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids saw their three-game undefeated run and two-game stretch without allowing a goal end with a thump, the four goals allowed by the Rapids the most since a 4-1 loss to San Jose on Oct. 6, 2012 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • “For the better part of six games, we were a really good defensive team, but after receiving two or three goals, you begin to doubt your ability as a player. That was the disappointing part,” said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “… Against a team like this, you definitely don't want to be defending deep in your half as we found ourselves for the majority of the game. It's our poor decisions moving forward and our lack of effort when we do have the ball and relying on our defense. With the type of players they have, it just put a lot of pressure on our defense and forced a lot of errors that led to the dismantling of the team.”
  • Dillon Serna became the first Homegrown Player in Rapids history to score a goal, netting his first as a professional in his fifth career league appearance. Serna was making his second career MLS start, after opening the season in the first XI.
  • “He's a creative player, he's a confident player, he's got a very, very bright future ahead of him, and hopefully today will go a long way into continuing to build his confidence,” said defender Drew  Moor. “A goal, even in a tough match like this, is huge for a young kid like him. He's confident beyond his years.”
  • Said Mastroeni: “I thought he had a decent game, but at the end of the day, it's not about individuals, it's about team and what your role is on this team. I'm excited that he opened his account as a pro and I think he has a bright future.”
  • Of the nine goals scored by the Rapids this season, only one has come by a player lined up as a striker on the day (Edson Buddle’s goal April 12 vs. Toronto FC).
  • “It’s an individual thing, I don’t think it’s a collective thing,” Mastroeni said . “The moment you get higher up the field and you lose possession early, psychologically, the guys that are supposed to join in don’t have the trust in guys up front and they no longer join in, and it becomes hard for the guys up top to hold it. It’s a vicious cycle that happens when there isn’t good possession up the field.”
  • There was a slight tactical shift as Buddle and Gabriel Torres lined up as out-and-out strikers, with Serna moving into an attacking midfield role.
  • “We have to work hard and find that touch back between the midfield and the strikers, I think we’ve lost that a bit,” Torres said. “The last [home] game [a scoreless draw against San Jose], our team had some chances to score, so we can build off that and get better.”
  • Said Serna: “That's the first time I played at the top of the diamond, actually, in a little while, so it was good to be back playing there. Knowing that they can trust me at the top, at the left or the right, it's good for me. I'll just keep practicing there and see what I can do to improve.”

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy return to action following another bye week, stretching their undefeated run to four matches following a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. The Galaxy sit in sixth place in the Western Conference with eight points from five games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy bagged the game's opener in the 38th minute, when Stefan Ishizaki latched onto a Baggio Husidic header right across the face of goal and put his own header heading into the bottom right corner of the Vancouver goal.
  • But Whitecaps FC drew level on the three-quarter mark when Darren Mattocks raced in between defenders to claim a through ball before finishing on the right side from an acute angle.
  • The Galaxy once again nosed in front in the 77th minute. After Omar Gonzalez hit a long ball into the penalty area, Rob Friend found Robbie Keane with a header and he scored on the half volley with his left foot from very close range.
  • Yet there was one more final answer from Whitecaps FC, Kekuta Manneh taking a cut back pass from Darren Mattocks before firing into the bottom right corner of goal from just outside the area, beating Jaime Penedo in the Galaxy goal.
  • Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made no changes to the team that defeated Whitecaps FC the week before at StubHub Center.
  • LA GALAXY (4-3-1-2): Jaime Penedo - Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, A.J. DeLaGarza - Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Baggio Husidic (Gyasi Zardes 72) - Stefan Ishizaki (Rob Friend 72) - Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Galaxy have conceded three goals in the second half all season, and they’ve all led to points dropped ñ the 80th-minute winner scored by RSL in the 1-0 season opener, and the two goals scored by Whitecaps FC.
  • “At the end when you’re winning 2-1 and you give up a goal, it’s frustrating. But I think when the dust clears and everything settles we’ll be OK with it, but we’ve got to get better,” said Landon Donovan. “If we’re in this position again later in the year, which we will be, we have to make sure we learn from it.”
  • The Galaxy return to action following their third bye week already this season. The Rapids will be just their fourth opponent this season, having already played Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC twice each.
  • “When we think we're finally hitting a stride, we get hit with another bye week,” defender A.J. DeLaGarza said. Added Omar Gonzalez: “It takes us out of our rhythm and allows maybe to lose a bit of fitness here and there because we're not getting ready for a game and not playing 90 minutes this week.”
  • Stefan Ishizaki scored his second goal in three matches, and has two goals and two assists over the last three matches.
  • Two weeks after scoring his first goal since joining the Galaxy, Baggio Husidic collected his first LA assist on the Ishizaki goal.
  • The Galaxy reprised their tactical scheme of having Stefan Ishizaki in behind the front two of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. That then changed for the final 20 minutes when Rob Friend came on in attack, joined off the substitutes’ bench by Gyasi Zardes.
  • “We had the momentum for most of the game. We kept the ball. We kept it moving. We did well with our goals, but it feels like we have to score way more goals then everybody else,” said Robbie Keane. “... The way we passed it was fine, especially on a difficult pitch. We have to learn as a team. When people come in they have to be ready to come in and play. They have to be ready to play and stand the roles that they have.”
  • Said Friend: “Bruce [Arena] wants to start with a diamond and we’ve been playing well like that. The time that I get, I need to make the best with it. Personally I’m happy with that. Obviously a goal would be nice. The goals will come, I know they will. I think I’ve been a bit unfortunate not to get the goals.”
  • The Colorado game starts a string of three consecutive road games for the Galaxy, traveling also to Portland and Houston before returning to the StubHub Center on May 21 against FC Dallas.