By: Alex Baker
Carson, CA – On a drizzly night when they had hoped to clinch the MLS Supporters Shield in front of a sold-out crowd, the LA Galaxy instead suffered a disappointing 3-1 home defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rapids.
Edson Buddle had a night that contained elements of the good, the bad and the ugly. The Galaxy striker found the back of the net four times during the course of the match. However two were ruled offside and another was an own goal. Nonetheless Buddle was responsible for the Galaxy’s lone goal of the match and was unlucky not to have scored more.
The Rapids second and third goals came one in each half, courtesy of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. While the Galaxy played what was not a by any stretch a bad game, Colorado was the more fortunate side when it came to converting their chances. In Galaxy captain Landon Donovan’s words, “The result was bad. The performance actually wasn’t bad. Until they scored I thought we did pretty well.”
Indeed the Galaxy looked dominant in the opening rounds with Buddle netting the first of his two offside goals inside of one minute’s playing time.
David Beckham has been reinstated in the Galaxy starting lineup and showed flashes of some of his best recent form. The veteran English midfielder was on target with his placement and did an excellent job of providing for Buddle throughout the match.
Although it would be Donovan who would assist when Buddle gave the Galaxy the lead in the 9th minute with a lobbed shot in from the top of the 18 that left the keeper stranded.
The first fifteen minutes came to an end without Colorado having registered so much as a look on the goal. However in the 17th minute everything changed when Omar Cummings broke down the right and crossed the ball in where it was deflected out. On the ensuing corner, the ball was accidentally deflected into the back of the Galaxy net by Edson Buddle gifting Colorado an own goal.
For Rapids head coach, Gary Smith this was clearly the moment when the game turned. “ We got ourselves maybe a fortuitous goal to begin with but from that point on we created some of the clearer opportunities in the game,” adding that, ”Scoring goals at the right time, I think it raises morale and maybe shifts the momentum slightly.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was hardly as upbeat in his post-game proceedings and indeed an air of gloom seemed to hang over the Galaxy locker room and press conference. Frequently self-deprecating, tonight the coach was scathingly sarcastic explaining, “They scored three goals. Until they find another way to decide who wins and who loses games that’s important. Until they change the rules I think it ‘s the team that scores the most goals that wins.”
Arena’s remarks were short and terse, in keeping with his apparent mood. He did however offer some praise for David Beckham saying, “He was pretty sharp at times during the night. His fitness needs a little bit more work but I think he’s getting better each week.”
The Rapids grabbed the lead just on the half hour mark through Conor Casey who received a good ball in from Cummings and fired it into the back of the net from close range.
Despite a dogged effort by the home side, the Rapids effectively killed the match off in the 67th minute with their second goal, which began as a counterattack and culminated in Cummings receiving the ball from Casey and slotting it confidently between Rickets and the far post.
Buddle yet had another good chance come and go in the 75th minute but his close-range effort was yet again snuffed out by Rapids keeper, Pickens. Speaking after the match, the Team USA striker was circumspect about his bittersweet performance, surmising that, “They probably found some momentum and some energy from getting an equalizer. But that being said they got another goal and made it harder for us to come back. “
With fans beginning to trail out in a light drizzle, LA’s last chance to pull one back fell to Donovan in injury time. But the midfielder sent his effort wide of far post from inside the 18 and moments later the final whistle was blown with the score-line remaining at 3-1 in Colorado’s favor.
Speaking to the press after the match is was also Donovan who offered the clearest explanation of how the game got away from the Galaxy saying, “Soccer at any level comes down to making plays and tonight they made the plays that counted and we didn’t.”[picappgallerysingle id=”8710616″]
Galaxy still have a chance to clinch the supporters shield by beating FC Dallas in their final regular season match of the year next Sunday at the Home Depot Center. Rapids can actually give LA a hand by defeating their Supporter’s Shield rivals, Real Salt Lake the day before.