Nearly all the way towards what would have been a strong win for the LA Galaxy, the club needed just one more key contribution to put them over the edge.
Josh Saunders was more than ready for the challenge.
The Galaxy goalkeeper turned away Omar Cummings on a stoppage-time penalty kick to preserve a 2-1 Galaxy victory over Colorado at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.
SAVE: Saunders stops Cummings PK
“It’s nice to be able to come up big for your team in a time in need. We were up 2-1, and that would have tied the game, so it gave us a crucial three points. Massive,” Saunders said. “It’s one of those things, you see how hard they’re working and you want to do something for them.”
The Galaxy now have something they’ve not had in 2012 – a winning streak. Combined with a 3-1 triumph over Portland a week ago, the Galaxy now have six points in their last two matches and the team is rising up the table.
That the game nearly was overshadowed by what players referred to as a questionable call was a fortuitous thing to have avoided.
“It would have been a travesty if we hadn’t won this game tonight because we were on top for most of the game,” Galaxy midfielder David Beckham said. “They obviously came at us second half but it would have been a travesty if we hadn’t have won it, but we did.”
The Galaxy did so in part because of their attack. The club got two first-half goals, another first in 2012. The first was a Rapids own goal as Marvell Wynne knocked the ball into the back of his own net after 21 minutes, but Landon Donovan made sure the Galaxy got full credit for the second goal by putting away a ball off a feed from Robbie Keane.
The goal helped atone for a chance that Donovan squandered that would have put the Galaxy up 1-0 much earlier.
“Yeah, I should have scored a really easy one early on,” Donovan said. “But we did a good job of using the ball well and on that play, I started on my right and got it into Robbie [Keane]. Myself, Edson [Buddle] and him took off and Edson did a good job dragging a few defenders away and Robbie got it to me and I just wanted to hit the target hard from there and it went in.”
That the Galaxy scored first was important, but keeping the Rapids from scoring an early goal helped the Galaxy gain some early confidence.
“I think it’s always important especially when you’re on the road to not concede in the first 10 to 15 minutes,” Beckham said. “We kept it tight and we felt we were creating good chances and getting that first goal always settles the team down. Settles individuals down, I think it did that. And it quieted the fans down and that’s a big thing to do so we went on from there.”
Colorado got back into the match though when Cummings scored just past the hour. That goal meant the Galaxy failed to come away with another first in 2012 as the Galaxy have not yet had a clean sheet in eight matches across all competitions.
The Galaxy though persevered and kept their wits about them, even though the officiating seemingly turned on them in the end.
Still, officials’ calls don’t count for goals and the Rapids had to put away their penalty in stoppage time to level terms. Saunders said his own confidence made all the difference.
“You try to intimidate as much as you can, stand tall and go big when you can,” he said. “Honestly I don’t even know statistically what odds would be. It’s just what you make of it. If you’re confident and ready to go for it, you can make the save.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.