INVESCO FIELD at MILE HIGH
7:30 pm MT (KWHY)
The Los Angeles Galaxy travel to Denver for the second game of their home-and-home series with the Colorado Rapids with a real opportunity to put some space between the two clubs. The Galaxy won the first leg 2-0 on Saturday at The Home Depot Center and are now nine points ahead of the Rapids, while also ensuring they held onto top spot in the West. But Colorado could do a lot for the rest of the conference to pull back the Galaxy by taking the three points instead.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Jose Corro; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Gus St. Silva
MLS Career: 25 games; FC/gm: 32.8; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 7; pens: 10
Games involving Rapids: P3 W2 L0 T1; FC/gm: 32.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 2; pens: 0
Games involving Galaxy: P5 W4 L1 T0; FC/gm: 35.8; Y/gm: 4.4; R: 1; pens: 4
INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: DF Jeff Stewart (R knee); FW Zizi Roberts (R knee swelling); DOUBTFUL: FW Rey Angel Martinez (broken toe); PROBABLE: DF Ritchie Kotschau (L knee); FW Jean-Philippe Peguero (abdominal strain);: MD Mark Chung (L quadriceps strain) ... LOS ANGELES GALAXY - OUT: DF Danny Califf (L torn meniscus); MD Peter Vagenas (groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: MD Marcelo Saragosa (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
YELLOW PERIL: COL: Darryl Powell (18 CP); Pablo Mastroeni (17 CP) ... LA: Chris Aloisi (8 CP in 2 gms); Paul Broome (20 CP); Andreas Herzog (9 CP in 2 gms); Peter Vagenas (10 CP in 2 gms)
This is the fourth and final meeting between the two clubs this season, and the return match of a home-and-home series over the past four days to conclude the season series between the Western Conference clubs.
On Saturday at the Home Depot Center, the Galaxy won the first match of the set by a 2-0 scoreline behind a pair of strange goals.
Rookie Ned Grabavoy gave the home side the lead on 39 minutes when he swung a free kick into the box and Tyrone Marshall attempted to get on the end of it, failing to touch it but succeeding in distracting Colorado 'keeper Joe Cannon who saw the ball get past him.
Then 10 minutes from time, Cannon was again the unfortunate victim when Carlos Ruiz hit a free kick that deflected off the Rapids wall and looped through the hands of the hapless netminder for his league-leading ninth goal of the campaign.
The Rapids had a chance to pull a goal back late in the match when Chris Aloisi was ruled to have handled the ball in the area, only for Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman to kick out John Spencer's penalty.
The teams have played to a pair of 1-1 draws this season. In the last meeting on May 15 in Carson, Los Angeles Galaxy striker Carlos Ruiz suffered an ankle injury in the 24th minute that kept him out of six league matches.
Ruiz's replacement, Venezuelan international Alejandro Moreno, gave the Galaxy a 61st-minute lead when he was quickest to the rebound of a saved Cobi Jones shot that finished off a fine flowing movement.
But 10 minutes later, Colorado pulled level when Chris Henderson pulled back a deep cross to find an unmarked Jean-Philippe Peguero at the spot, and the Haiti international made no mistake in turning the ball home, celebrating with a tribute to injured Rapids captain and strike partner John Spencer.
In their first meeting this year, the teams played to a 1-1 draw at Invesco Field on April 17. Jean-Philippe Peguero headed home a corner kick in the ninth minute to give the Rapids the lead, but Carlos Ruiz pounced on a pullback by Jovan Kirovski after a neat bit of skill in the corner to pull the Galaxy even in the 20th minute, as the visitors were then twice aided by the woodwork to preserve the draw.
A year ago, the Rapids won two of the four meetings between the two, the teams also playing to one draw, in a series filled with climactic meetings.
The Rapids won their first game of 2003 in the first meeting, 1-0 on May 31 in Denver (Carrieri 77). Then on June 7, the Galaxy inaugurated their new home with their first victory of 2003, a 2-0 victory to open the HDC (Ruiz 50 pen, 90).
On June 25, the teams played a 2-2 draw in the Mile High City (Chung 12, Spencer 29 - Albright 66, 70), then Colorado won 1-0 on July 9 at the start of their rampaging midseason run of nine wins in 11 games (Spencer 77).
Colorado hadn't won in regulation time in L.A. until the 2002 season - and now they've done it in back-to-back seasons. The Galaxy have won in Denver in six of their eight MLS campaigns, losing both games in Colorado in only 1999 and 2000.
Mark Chung leads all current Rapids with 7 goals, 2 assists v Los Angeles, but only 3 goals, 1 assist have come while in Colorado. Chris Henderson is second on the club's all-time list (behind Paul Bravo) with 4 goals, 3 assists (for his career he has 4 goals, 5 assists). John Spencer also has 4 goals career v Galaxy.
Cobi Jones has 12 goals, 9 assists in his career v Colorado, to lead the Galaxy all-time list. Carlos Ruiz is next among current players with 7 goals. Sasha Victorine, Dan Califf and Chris Albright each have 2 career goals v Rapids.
Coaches record: Tim Hankinson v LA: P20 W6 L11 T3 ... Sigi Schmid vs. COL: P22 W11 L8 D3
ALL-TIME (35 meetings): Rapids 11 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals ... Galaxy 21 wins (2 shootout), 63 goals ... 4 draws
AT LOS ANGELES (17 meetings): Rapids 8 wins (0 shootout), 22 goals ... Galaxy 7 wins (1 shootout), 26 goals ... 2 draw
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 in Carson the previous weekend. With Chris Albright away on national duty, Paul Broome came into the back four while Chris Aloisi changed flanks. Marcelo Saragosa was out with an ankle sprain and Andreas Herzog was suspended, meaning Sasha Victorine and Guillermo Gonzalez came into midfield.
Here's Schmid's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Chris Aloisi, Ryan Suarez, Tyrone Marshall, Paul Broome - Cobi Jones, Guillermo Gonzalez (Alejandro Moreno 54), Sasha Victorine, Ned Grabavoy - Carlos Ruiz (Joseph Ngwenya 89), Jovan Kirovski.
"It was little bit of grind, from a standpoint of the guys missing, but we created enough chances," Schmid said. "They're a team that doesn't give up anything easy."
Grabavoy was credited with his first professional goal - though defender Tyrone Marshall also claimed credit for touching the free kick as it swung into the area. It capped a fine performance for the rookie.
"I thought we came out with the thought process that we weren't going to give anything up," Grabavoy said. "We wanted a zero."
The Galaxy could open some real space between them and the Rapids with a victory on Wednesday - a sweep in a series that Colorado coach Tim Hankinson considered very important for the remainder of the campaign. "We've shown this season we can win on the road, so we have to go out there and get points,' Schmid said. "I think the game in Colorado will be easier for us because they will come at us a little bit, and that will allow us to get some spaces.'
There was a bit of an awkward moment for the club, though, which celebrated Korean Heritage Night for the Rapids match. However, former South Korean international Hong Myung-Bo did not figure in the match.
"I apologize to the Korean community," said Schmid. "It was just one of those things with the way the game was going, that in a game like that, it was in the balance and you don't like to change things defensively. He understands that."
The game begins a month-long road swing for the Galaxy, who will play their next four matches away from The Home Depot Center. A year ago, after starting the season with an eight-game road swing, the Galaxy failed to win a single match on their travels, eventually going 19 road matches in a row without a victory.
The Los Angeles Galaxy extended their winning streak to three games and maintained their position atop the Western Conference with the win against the Rapids. The Galaxy are still two points ahead of second-place Kansas City Wizards with 30 points from 17 matches, the best overall record in the league.
Rapids coach Tim Hankinson made two changes to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 the previous July 4 in Denver. Pablo Mastroeni was away on national team duty as Darryl Powell came in midfield, Matt Crawford moving to the back four. Joey DiGiamarino also came into midfield as Jordan Cila returned to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Hankinson's team (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Antonio de la Torre, Nat Borchers, Ritchie Kotschau, Matt Crawford - Chris Henderson (Seth Trembly 70), Kyle Beckerman (Gary Sullivan 76), Darryl Powell, Joey DiGiamarino (Jordan Cila 46) - John Spencer, Alberto Delgado.
"It is the greatest challenge for any team, when you get knocked down, is how quickly you get back up, get back in the fight," Hankinson said. "Wednesday is our night to show what we are made of."
The Rapids were bothered by the exclusion of goalkeeper Joe Cannon from the Western Conference all-star team. San Jose Earthquakes 'keeper Pat Onstad was elected as the starter; Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid selected Kevin Hartman as the backup.
"Clearly, in our minds, he's deserving of being an All-Star," Hankinson said. "He's performing at the top of his game. But this is a fan-geared event, and if our guys expect to be in the game, we have to be winning enough to get the votes. San Jose won the (MLS) Cup last year, and there's still some carry-over from that.
While is now listed as probable, midfielder Mark Chung is not expected to be available for the second Galaxy match. Jean-Philippe Peguero is also still hampered by a abdominal strain.
The Colorado Rapids had their three-game winning streak - and five-match unbeaten run - ended at the hands of the Galaxy at the weekend. But Colorado remained in third place in the Western Conference despite the loss, with 21 points from 15 matches, a point ahead of the Dallas Burn but now nine behind the Galaxy.