LOS ANGELES GALAXY v COLORADO RAPIDS
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
7:30 p.m. PT (FSN-W)
May 20, 2006 (WEEK 8) / MLS Game #47
The Los Angeles Galaxy have gone the longest they've ever gone at home without a victory - and after three consecutive shutouts, they are approaching the club record for the longest without scoring a goal, too. Winless in those three games, they play host to a Colorado Rapids side they defeated in last year's Western Conference Championship; the two teams are tied for third place in the West this season.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Steven Davidson; JAR (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Ramon Hernandez
MLS Career: 73 games; FC/gm: 32.9; Y/gm: 4.1; R: 11; pens: 32
MLS 2006: 2 games; FC/gm: 33.5 (avg: 31.3); Y/gm: 5.5 (avg: 3.83); R: 1 (MLS: 8); pens: 1 (MLS: 10)
Games involving Galaxy: P14 W8 L0 T6; FC/gm: 31.9; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 3; pens: 7
Games involving Rapids: P13 W3 L4 T6; FC/gm: 32.4; Y/gm: 4.9; R: 2; pens: 7
INJURY REPORT: LOS ANGELES GALAXY - QUESTIONABLE: FW Alan Gordon (sports hernia); FW Herculez Gomez (R knee strain) ... COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: GK Matt Jordan (lower back); DOUBTFUL: GK Joe Cannon (R groin strain); PROBABLE: MF Clint Mathis (R groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: LA: Landon Donovan, Chris Albright (USA; 2006 World Cup); Cornell Glen (Trinidad & Tobago; 2006 World Cup) ... COL: Pablo Mastroeni (USA; 2006 World Cup)
This is the first of four league meetings scheduled between the Western Conference clubs, the first of two at The Home Depot Center. They'll meet for the first time in the Rocky Mountain State in just 11 days time, then meet twice in a little more than a month at the end of the campaign, Aug. 12 in Denver then Sept. 16 in Carson.
ALL-TIME (40 meetings): Galaxy 13 wins (1 shootout), 42 goals ... Rapids 23 wins (2 shootout), 70 goals ... 4 draws
AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER: (20 meetings): Galaxy 10 wins (0 shootout), 25 goals ... Rapids 7 wins (1 shootout), 26 goals ... 1 draw
LAST YEAR (MLS)
A year ago, in league play, home teams held serve as each won twice on their own ground. Penalty kicks were a feature of their two encounters, three in the final five-plus minutes (two to L.A.) deciding the May 8 match at The Home Depot Center, then the only goal in Denver on June 15 coming via a Rapids spot kick.
The teams also met last year for the Western Conference championship, but that was the only time where home-field advantage didn't bear out, a pair of goals from Landon Donovan (28, 88) at Invesco Field giving the Galaxy a 2-0 victory and sending them on their way to a second MLS Cup victory.
Coaches record: Steve Sampson v COL: P5 W2 L2 D0 ... Fernando Clavijo vs. LA: P8 W4 L3 D1
5/8: LA 3, COL 2 (Marshall 21; Donovan 86, 91+ - Peguero 27; Cunningham 88)
6/15: COL 1, LA 0 (Cunningham 9)
8/6: COL 2, LA 0 (Cunningham 7; Peguero 30)
9/10: LA 4, COL 1 (Gomez 6, 66; Donovan 24; Ramirez 87 - Beckerman 48)
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
The Los Angeles Galaxy were shutout for the third consecutive match, the defending MLS Cup champion seeing their losing streak hit three and their club-record home winless streak extended as Real Salt Lake won for the first time ever on their travels, 3-0 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. The Galaxy are tied for third place in the Western Conference with seven points from eight matches, level with the Colorado Rapids six points behind Houston Dynamo and eight out of first place.
Real Salt Lake came in with just a single point from their six matches this season, while the Galaxy hadn't won in three home matches this season - their four-game home winless run dating to the final game of last season the longest in club history, since going three home games without a victory in both the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
But Atiba Harris got the visitors off to a good start, latching onto to a free kick driven to the top of the area by Carey Talley, spinning around Galaxy defender Tyrone Marshall and slipping a shot past Kevin Hartman to put Real in the lead after 17 minutes.
A series of spurned chances left the Galaxy with the opportunity to put on another comeback, but two goals from substitute Jeff Cunningham in the final 18 minutes ended that and sealed the victory for Real.
First, Chris Klein set Talley free down the right flank, and he and Cunningham raced in alone on Hartman, Talley sliding the ball across goal for Cunningham to tap in the 72nd minute. Then three minutes from the end, Jason Kreis looped a ball over the Galaxy defense for Cunningham to bring in alone, and after he rounded Hartman at the top of the box he rolled the ball into the unguarded goal.
Galaxy boss Steve Sampson made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to FC Dallas at midweek. After executing a trade with the Columbus Crew the day before the game, new arrivals John Wolyniec and Kyle Martino came into the team, along with Michael Enfield, as the injured Herculez Gomez, the departed Joseph Ngwenya and Landon Donovan (U.S. national team duty) were all out.
Here's Sampson's team (4-4-2): Kevin Hartman - Ugo Ihemelu, Tyrone Marshall, Kyle Veris, Todd Dunivant - Cobi Jones, Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas (Thiago 76), Kyle Martino - John Wolyniec, Michael Enfield (Josh Gardner 57). [Substitutes Not Used: Marc Burch, Steve Cronin, Troy Roberts, Marcelo Saragosa, Nathan Sturgis]
"This loss was extremely disappointing. I can't put it any other way," Sampson said. " ... "This is a team that is wounded and somehow we need to find the answers."
Even though he had arrived just hours earlier, John Wolyniec was given the start in attack alongside Michael Enfield.
"The bottom line is we've got no forwards to go to. They are all either injured or with the national team," Sampson said. "... Alan Gordon is hurt. Herculez Gomez is hurt. Landon Donovan and Cornell Glen are both gone [with the U.S. national team]. For Wolyniec to come in and work miracles I think was way too much to expect. For 45 or 60 minutes he fought very hard and then just ran out of gas."
Both Wolyniec and Martino put together good performances despite not having a single training session with the Galaxy - something that Sampson generally eschews.
"There was not much time to adjust," Wolyniec said. "I didn't have more than a few words with most guys. Some guys I'm slightly familiar with but nobody I'm really familiar with. I just tried to get as many names as I could and go out there and just play soccer."
Said Sampson: "I liked the addition of Kyle Martino. He brought a lot of energy to the team," said Sampson. "I liked what I saw of him. I think it's a great addition to this team. I think he can play underneath the forwards. When we get everyone back he'll be a great compliment to a number of players."
Sampson reiterated his team will have to find a way forward with the absence of Landon Donovan. He will certainly miss the Galaxy's next seven games while with the U.S. national team for the World Cup.Five of the next seven matches are against Western Conference opponents.
"Too often, the way Landon goes is the way the Galaxy goes," Sampson said. "I think it's important that we establish that we can be good with him and without him."
Herculez Gomez, who has not started the last two matches while suffering from a strained ligament in his right knee, has been running at full speed and said he will be ready for Saturday's match. He also has sympathy for Sampson's situation.
"I feel for him," Gomez said. "I wouldn't want to be in his position. But he's not the only one on the hot seat ... we all are. It was pathetic what we showed our fans (Saturday) because they deserve more. Getting a good result against Colorado wouldn't bring us back to where we want to be, but it would get us a step closer."
It's been a difficult start to defense of their title for the Galaxy. "When things go well for so long, people may forget the steps to get there," Galaxy captain Peter Vagenas said. "We have to revisit those steps as players on the field because we have to realize that we achieved what we did last year because of the simple fundamentals of the game and nothing else."
The Colorado Rapids lost for the second time in three matches - and for the second time in two road contests - falling 1-0 to the Columbus Crew last Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Rapids are tied for third place in the Western Conference with seven points from six matches, level with the Los Angeles Galaxy, six behind Houston Dynamo and eight adrift of first-place FC Dallas.
An injury-riddled Crew team received a couple of reinforcements the day before the match, obtaining Ned Grabavoy and Joseph Ngwenya from the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for Kyle Martino and John Wolyniec.
The Rapids suffered a blow after just 10 minutes when two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Joe Cannon suffered a groin injury and was replaced by Bouna Coundoul, the Senegal-born 'keeper making his professional debut.
Both teams kept clean sheets until the 74th minute when Grabavoy - who had arrived in Columbus just that morning - cut inside from the left past a pair of Colorado defenders and unleashed a low shot from just inside the penalty area that beat Coundoul inside the far post.
Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo made two changes to the team that came back to knock off D.C. United 2-1 the weekend before in Denver. Pablo Mastroeni left to join the U.S. national team and Clint Mathis went to the substitutes' bench as Dedi Ben Dayan came back into the team and there was a first career MLS start for Jacob Peterson.
Here's Clavijo's team (4-3-1-2): Joe Cannon (Bouna Coundoul 10) - Hunter Freeman, Mike Petke, Aitor Karanka, Eric Denton (Thiago Martins 77) - Terry Cooke, Kyle Beckerman, Dedi Ben Dayan (Clint Mathis 82) - Jovan Kirovski - Jacob Peterson, Nicolas Hernandez. [Substitutes Not Used: Colin Clark, Fabrice Noel, Daniel Wasson, Chris Wingert]
"We came to play. We played extremely well at times. The only thing I can say to my players is we aren't going to lose many games like this," Clavijo said. "We outplayed them, we outshot them, we came to play, we opened up and went forward. But to win games you have to score and we didn't and they did. You have to give them credit. We have to go back to the drawing board and keep working."
The Rapids game turned upside down after just 10 minutes when Cannon went off with a recurrence of his groin injury, which occurred during pregame warmups. "It caught us by surprise, let's put it that way," Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo said to the Denver Post.
With backup Matt Jordan, acquired before the season, out with a lower back injury, that left the job to Senegal-born Bouna Coundoul. He signed a developmental contract last year after coming out of the University of Albany.
"You could see the first couple balls he was a little bit shaky, but after that he was tremendous," Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo said. "He's a kid that has a great future. Sometimes you need a break like that to get into a lineup."
After taking some time to reflect upon his league debut, Coundoul was visibly pleased with the opportunity but quite critical of the shot that got squeezed through. "I didn't want it to end like this," Coundoul said. "... I was looking to get a 'W', or atleast go home with a tie."
In his first minutes of play, Coundoul appeared quite nervous, dropping and bobbling the ball on each of his first four touches. "In the first few minutes I was a little bit nervous, but after a while, I felt comfortable," said Coundoul. "But the ball was wet and I had brand new gloves. ... These new balls are also very hard to catch. I know I am capable of doing more than I did today. .. You know what? It's Bouna's time."
Colorado controlled the flow of the match, and outshot the Crew 12-6. "The only thing I can say to my players is we're not going to lose many games like this," Clavijo said. "We outplayed them. We outshot them. But to win games you have to score, and we didn't and they did."