COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — A combination of a poor first-half creatively and some questionable refereeing decisions condemned the Rapids to a 3-1 defeat on Saturday at home to the LA Galaxy, according to Colorado head coach Gary Smith.
While accepting the Rapids should have done more going forward in the first period, three key decisions went against his team at crucial points of the game, according to Smith: a missed call on the first LA goal — when Chris Birchall appeared to play the ball from out of play — a penalty call on Omar Cummings in the second half that wasn’t given and Caleb Folan’s ejection in the 74th minute.
“All of those decisions culminate in us falling the wrong side of a tough defeat,” Smith said after the game. “The first half was good in general play, but we lacked edge and some creativity.”
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With Conor Casey and Folan starting up top, the Rapids forward line was relying on good service, and they didn’t get enough of it in that opening period, said Smith. But the reaction in the second half was much improved.
“We had momentum,” said defender Drew Moor. “We came out the second half and did exactly what we wanted to do. We scored a goal and put them under pressure.”
But Folan’s expulsion for a challenge on LA’s Juninho once again turned the momentum more towards LA and the visitors were then able to kill the game with a counterattack goal from Chad Barrett in the 80th minute.
“While we had 11 men, we looked the more likely to get the equalizer rather than them extending their lead,” Smith said. “When Caleb goes off, emotionally it’s difficult for the players. It took us a moment or two to come to terms with that and they were clinical on the counterattack.”
Much of the better energy in the second half stemmed from the introduction of Omar Cummings. The Jamaican hasn’t played since limping out of the May 4 game against Houston with an ankle injury. For the first half-hour of the second half, the Rapids played up front with three forwards in Cummings, Casey and Folan. Cummings said he liked the three-prong approach.
“It was good to get back on the field, not under the best conditions, but personally good to get out there,” Cummings said. “It was good to do that but it would be better without the added pressure of trying to get back in the game. It was good to play that [combination] at one time.”
Unfortunately for the Rapids, it didn’t prove enough amid Folan’s early departure and Barrett’s decisive goal. All the hope Colorado had at the beginning of the second half had gone.
“We were confident going back into the second half,” said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. “We were in need of two goals and it’s a goal-scorer that goes off. The momentum all changed.”