CARSON, Calif. – Clint Irwin made big stops to quell LA's teenage attack, but the Colorado Rapids couldn't overcome a red-card foul at the start of the second half, and the Galaxy climbed atop the Western Conference standings with a 1-0 triumph at the Home Depot Center on Saturday.
Mike Magee converted from the spot in the 50th minute, after Drew Moor was ejected for an off-the-ball backhand to Marcelo Sarvas' face, and the Galaxy (2-0-1) pulled one point ahead of Vancouver and FC Dallas with a performance far more dominant than the score suggests.
The Rapids (0-3-1) had already lost two starters to injury – captain Pablo Mastroeni with a quadriceps strain after halting a Colin Clark run in the 23rd minute, and center back Diego Calderón, who bruised his right quad crashing into the right post after clearing a Jose Villarreal shot off the line in the 32nd – before Moor, just inside the box, leveled Sarvas.
Referee Armando Villarreal consulted linesman Corey Rockwell before pointing to the spot and pulling out the red card, with Moor already headed toward the locker room.
The Galaxy, with forward Robbie Keane and center back Omar Gonzalez away on international duty, paired teenage forwards Villarreal and Jack McBean, and they caused havoc for Colorado's defense and were on the end of nearly a dozen chances between them.
The best were Villarreal's sharp third-minute header from a corner kick, which Irwin dived to deny, and his chip just outside the box from A.J. DeLaGarza's long ball that was goal-bound until Calderon caught up with it near the goal line.
Irwin, in the nets in place of injured Matt Pickens, also did well to parry McBean's 10th-minute blast after Sarvas intercepted a Moor pass, and McBean's header from Sean Franklin's short cross in the 36th minute. McBean, making his second career MLS start and fifth league appearance in three seasons, also had chances in the 29th (headed wide) and 86th (delayed his shot and was smothered by Irwin) minutes.
Mastroeni was returning from a hamstring injury sustained two weeks ago against Philadelphia, but he went down after tackling the ball away from Clark and came off four minutes later.
Rapids coach Oscar Pareja used up his substitutes by the 52nd minute, when he inserted Shane O'Neill for Kevin Harbottle after Moor's ejection. Colorado, who are last in the West, created few chances – they were outshot, 21-5 – rarely got into LA's box and tested Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini only from long range.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Clint Irwin||In his first MLS start, the Rapids goalkeeper made seven saves, and while his teammates were falling to pieces around him, he single-handedly kept his team in the match|
|2||Juninho||Controlled the midfield for the Galaxy, sent long balls to the young forwards, and helped LA tighten its grip on the proceedings|
|3||Todd Dunivant||The Galaxy captain in this match, Dunivant may not have had many chances to deal with defensively, but his two-way game gave Colorado trouble on the flank|