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MLS Western Conference Semi-Finals Game 1: LA Galaxy 1, Colorado Rapids 0

And the first leg is done. The Burgundy Boys are coming back to Colorado for round two!

MLS: Conference Semifinals-Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The first leg of the MLS Western Conference Semi-Finals between the LA Galaxy and the Colorado Rapids went down today at the somewhat empty StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Both teams came out aggressively, and Dominique Badji had a great shot early. Tim Howard was on fire this first half, with a key save off the line in the 18th minute, and a catlike save a few minutes later in the 21st. We were seeing USMNT Tim Howard today.

In the 30th min, Kevin Doyle got edged off the ball for a great corner by Shkëlzen Gashi. They earned another corner and Jared Watts had an opportunity to shoot but didn’t take it.

For the first half, possession was about 60/40 (for LA). The Rapids made some mistakes here and there, but the defense was solid. On offense, it felt like we were just one pass behind every time. The front line that Pablo Mastroeni chose to start with lacked speed. Pablo decided to put Doyle back up top and have Dillon Powers in the 10 spot, and it wasn’t working well.

Surprisingly, Pablo made a halftime sub, bringing in Jermaine Jones for Dillon Powers. He was getting higher up top than Powers and putting on the pressure, earning the Rapids a corner almost right away. Things definitely shifted after Jones came in, but after those first few minutes, the Rapids got a little disjointed.

Jelle Van Damme brought the ball upfield and into the box. He had the space to pass it to Giovani dos Santos, but when Sjoberg tried to clear it out, he instead headed it into the opposite corner past Tim Howard to put LA up 1-0 in the 55th minute. It looked like Howard could have been in position to make the save from the shot by Dos Santos.

Just a few minutes later, Jermaine Jones blasted a shot, but Brian Rowe made the diving save. In the 69th minute, Marlon Hairston came in and the lineup was finally what it should have been from the beginning.

After the LA goal, there was some intensity from the Rapids, but LA locked it down on defense. The Rapids were getting shots here and there, but nothing made it to the back of the net.

The final score was LA Galaxy 1, Colorado Rapids 0. LA had four shots on goal, and Colorado had one. Overall, the Rapids defense played well today (with some exceptions) and the offense was having a tough time getting going—pretty much the story of the 2016 season. We gave the ball away too much, and just didn’t get it done. The Rapids starting lineup was questionable, which I think was a big reason that Gashi couldn’t get going. Badji looked a little slower than usual, too. I think the Hairston sub was too late - he should have been starting.

But the series isn’t over yet.

Also of note in this game was the yellow cards. Regular season yellow card accumulation is reset for the playoffs, but two yellows in a single game, or two yellows in any of the two following games results in a next game suspension: Knockout Round, Conference Semifinal Leg 1, Conference Semifinal Leg 2, Conference Championship Leg 1. If a player earns a second yellow in the Conference Championship Leg 2, he is still eligible to play in the MLS Cup Final, and yellow card accumulation resets in the final. You can read all about it here.

Badji, Watts, and Jones all received yellow cards today.

I would expect a similar type of game back in Colorado next week. They key next week will be to shutout LA. For the Burgundy Boys to advance, we need to win 1-0 and then take it in overtime, or a two-goal differential (2-0 or 3-1 for example).