COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- Vicente Sanchez’s wonder-chip and Robbie Keane’s missed penalty kick lifted the Colorado Rapids to a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night.
Sanchez’s 20th-minute chip might’ve been unintentional, but either way the Rapids enjoyed the three points, improving to 4-2-2 (14 points) on the season and putting them within shouting distance from Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake. LA, meanwhile, dropped to 2-2-2 and Landon Donovan was left waiting yet another week to break the MLS scoring record.
Keane’s missed penalty in the 63rd cost the Galaxy at least a share of the points and snapped their four-game unbeaten streak, losing for just the second time all season and the first since a 1-0 loss against Real Salt Lake in their season opener. The Galaxy spent the second half on the offensive, collecting several chances to equalize, but they were unable to come find an equalizer.
On a beautiful evening in suburban Denver, the Galaxy nearly took the lead two minutes in, but Stefan Ishizaki’s shot from six yards out was desperately kicked off the line by Drew Moor after a series of missed clearances by the Rapids’ defense.
In the 20th, Sanchez struck with his touch of gold. Off a partially cleared corner, the wily Uruguayan chipped a ball from inside the penalty box and it lofted over Jaime Penedo and into the top corner of the net – with Moor trailing closely behind. The chip shot might have been a pass, but either way, the goal will likely challenge for MLS Goal of the Week honors, and it gave the Rapids their first first-half goal of the season and Sanchez’s first from the run of play (fifth of the season overall).
L.A., however, kept on the offensive, and Donovan nearly netted his elusive 135th MLS goal in the 40th minute. Keane’s terrific feed gave Donovan space in the penalty box, but at a difficult angle, the US national team attacker pushed his effort wide of net.
Just before the half, DeShorn Brown nearly doubled the lead for Colorado off a delightful back heel, but the Jamaican’s effort crashed off the post, and Colorado went into the half holding a 1-0 advantage.
On the other side of the break, another desperate clearance from Moor kept the lead intact. The Rapids’ captain slid to keep a cross from entering the box, and he toe-poked it off the post and away from danger.
A few minutes later, Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin stopped Dan Gargan’s near-range effort as the Rapids spent the second half dodging bullets. But the biggest bullet came in the 61st minute.
Going after a 50-50 ball in the penalty box, Galaxy striker Rob Friend collided with Moor. The Rapids captain was deemed to have caught Friend in the face with a cleat - replays showed otherwise - and that led to referee Hilario Grajeda immediately pointing to the penalty spot.
On the ensuing spot kick, however, Keane pushed his low blast just wide of goal to further the Galaxy's frustrations and leave the Rapids out in front.
Colorado have a short week ahead as they’ll travel to San Jose for a Wednesday clash with the Earthquakes (10:30 p.m. ET, watch it on MLS Live), while LA continue their four-game road trip with a showdown vs. the Portland Timbers next Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Vicente Sanchez||Picked up an early injury but fought through it, delivering a sublime game-winning chip before coming off at halftime. The game changed in LA's favor after his departure.|
|2||Drew Moor||The veteran defender had some early heroics in this one, clearing a ball off the goal line, and was active throughout in stymieing the Galaxy attack. He was harshly called for the PK.|
|3||DeShorn Brown||Was very active in the attacking third. His speed caused all sorts of problems for LA's back line, and he helped carry the offensive load when Sanchez went out.|
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.