It took 120 minutes and a penalty shootout to find a winner, but the Colorado Rapids will move on past the LA Galaxy in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs thanks to a Shkelzen Gashi golazo and two big saves in the shootout from Tim Howard.
The goal that brought the series level on aggregate came in the 36th minute with a long-range effort effort from Gashi. He received the ball 40 yards out from the Galaxy goal, took a touch forward and launched an effort that bent away from Brian Rowe, wrong-footing the LA ‘keeper and kissing the post on its way in. The goal brought the aggregate score in the series to 1-1, where it would stay for the remainder of the game.
Neither team was able to seriously test the opposing goalkeeper after Gashi’s goal until Dominique Badji forced a save out of Brian Rowe with his header in the 14th minute of extra time, the best remaining chance for both teams before the game headed to penalties.
The Galaxy started the shootout strong thanks to Steven Gerrard's effort, but would proceed to see Giovani dos Santos sky his shot and Ashley Cole have his strike saved by Howard, while Colorado made all of their first three spot kicks. That set up a do-or-die kick for LA's Jeff Larentowicz, but Howard got low to his right to deny the veteran midfielder's effort and send Colorado through.
OH MY GASHI:
It proved to be a game of highs and lows for Shkelzen Gashi, whose outstanding goal gave Colorado the lifeline they needed to push the series extra time. The only problem for Gashi was that he would not see the field in that extra time period, let alone the second half after he had to go off at halftime following a collision with Ashley Cole. He was seen returning to the Rapids bench on crutches, but Rapids fans can can reasonably hope to see him back in two weeks' time for the Conference Championship:
- COL: Western Conference Championship first leg vs. Seattle (Tuesday 11/22; FS1, TSN, MLS LIVE)