All right, new stipulation on my previews for games. Whenever I predict a Rapids win, let's just assume that I'm assuming that Danny Earls won't be in the line-up at the time. Colorado lost this game for a lot of reasons: bad refereeing at several points went against Colorado, Colorado had 10 men on the field at one point... but this loss is completely on the shoulders of head coach Gary Smith.
Smith blamed the lack of creativity and the referees for the loss in his postgame comments, but his line-up was just not what Rapids fans expected to see when they filled up DSGP today.
The first thing to go wrong for the Rapids happened right before the game was to start, when Jamie Smith failed a fitness test and was deemed unable to play despite being originally in the starting line-up. Sanna Nyassi was quickly put into his place in the right midfield. Caleb Folan got the start up top with Conor Casey as well, with Omar Cummings still not fully fit after returning from injury. There was no injury or otherwise that made Gary Smith insert popular whipping boy - last year anyway - Danny Earls into the line-up at Left Back, a spot where Earls has done more damage to the Rapids than the opposing teams his last few appearances in the league. This was his first league appearance since being played by the Rapids last year against FC Dallas after an Anthony Wallace injury.
Unfortunately, it looked like even Wells Thompson would have been a better option at the left defensive spot - a place he played against the Galaxy last season in one of the last games of the year and a game that Colorado won 3-1 - as Los Angeles took note and immediately started to attack down the left non-stop. With David Beckham inexplicably out of the line-up, the quality was even less for LA and the game seemed ripe for the taking even with the shoddy line-up the Rapids trodded out.
The first 20 minutes of play were both even and of a back and forth nature. Colorado's top line of Folan/Casey weren't incredibly effective and failed to get many shots off but the Rapids did keep decent possession and were able to tear through the Galaxy midfield at times with offensive rushes. The Galaxy failed to do much better, but got a couple of shots toward the goal forcing an easy save or two from Matt Pickens.
The first goal came on one of the more terribly blown calls I've seen by a linesman. In the 25th minute, Danny Earls missed a mark on Chris Burchell, who was all alone as he barely snagged an overweighted pass off the byline and threw it in front of the net where a sliding Drew Moor accidentally slammed it into his own net. On the replay, the ball clearly was completely over the line before he knocked it back in, so the play should have been called dead and a goal kick for Colorado. The quick and controversial goal seemed to deflate the Rapids.
For the next 20 minutes or so - basically the entire rest of the half - Colorado looked terrible and lackadaisical to say the very least. This culminated in the second goal, a brilliant shot off of Juninho's foot from 25 yards out that no keeper in the world would have stopped. The ball came from Burchell as he was once again unmarked by Danny Earls, who also failed to press back and keep Juninho from having the wide open shot. Thankfully for the Rapids, there was very little stoppage time and the half came to a quick and painful end for them.
Omar Cummings was finally subbed in during the half and the offense immediately improved. Caleb Folan had a great chance at goal that sailed just over the bar in the 48th minute and the Rapids possession and finesse looked greatly improved as the second began to wear along. Cummings himself created the only Rapids goal as he made some nifty moves in the box leading to a rip off the post, which Conor Casey was in the perfect position to stick the rebound from into the net. Jeff Larentowicz was inches from equalizing inside the box a minute later.
Caleb Folan made a tackle on Juninho in the 74th minute, getting the ball but also nicking Juninho's ankle. He went down fast and hard, immediately grabbing various parts of his leg and screaming for the medical staff as a gang of Galaxy players surrounded him and did the same. The referee amidst all of the chaos gave a completely undeserved red card to Folan, leaving them down to 10 men for the rest of the game and killing any real chance that Colorado had at a comeback. Juninho, disgracefully, came back into the game minutes later. LA scored the dagger a little while after that, putting the rotted cherry on top of a night where pretty much nothing went right. That Murphy guy from Murphy's law must be an LA fan!
MAN OF THE MATCH: Omar Cummings. The Rapids against a fast defense for LA needed speed and finesse, and Cummings provided both of those before getting the initial chance on the only goal for them. He needs to start early and often from now on.
GOAT OF THE MATCH: Danny Earls. There is no reason that this man should be starting or even sitting on the bench for a half-decent MLS team.