Just wow. While some may say this was an ugly game, does it matter? In my opinion, no. You play with the players you have and you set up to your strengths and the Rapids did that and outplayed the Los Angeles Galaxy.
For those of you who may have missed, the Rapids tied this up the series in the 36' when Shkelzen Gashi had a wonderstrike to beat Brian Rowe. The Rapids then had some opportunities to win it in regulation and extra time, but the ball never found the back of the net.
On the defensive side, the Rapids were wonderful. They took Giovani dos Santos out of the match and when Robbie Keane came on he was ineffective and resulted in flopping to try and get something. In fact, the Rapids only allowed one shot on goal and that was a long shot on the ground from Keane.
Once the game went to extra time, most of the possession went to the Rapids and as Rapids Rabbi highlighted in this week's Backpass, the Rapids went full throttle at Ashley Cole. This led to a great opportunity on the cross to Dominique Badji who forced Rowe into a great save.
When it came to the penalty kicks, the Rapids ruled this one. The converted on all of their opportunities while Tim Howard saved two and forced dos Santos to miss high. The Rapids were more fit and ready to play in this match than the Galaxy.
Here is how I saw the match.
Tim Howard - 10 (9.64): What can I say? This was one of the best performances by a goalie in a MLS match ever. He wasn't troubled during regulation and extra time, but in penalty kicks he was huge. He also moved the ball quite well during the match.
Marc Burch - 7 (7.40): An above average performance by Burch who was solid along the left side. Defensively he was huge in helping negate the Galaxy attack and worked well getting forward.
Axel Sjoberg - 7 (8.00): Another solid performance by Sjoberg. He did well against Gordon while he was on and against Keane when he came on. It was a physical match and he showed he was up to the challenge.
Jared Watts - 8 (7.74): Despite his critics, Watts had a great match and did well against a more experienced team. For me, he has solidified himself as Sjoberg's partner in the center back position.
Eric Miller - 7 (6.96): He had a quiet night but was overall solid handling the right side. He was able to get forward a few times and challenged Cole. Most of his successful passes were in the attacking half.
Sam Cronin - 7 (7.57): Cronin brought the Rapids thug life and called Keane on his flop. He was solid defensively but did quite well offensively.
Jermaine Jones - 8 (7.87): Jones was a wrecking ball but kept his emotions in check and did not pick up another yellow. He made several key tackles, including one in a box. He left it all on the pitch.
Shkelzen Gashi - 7 (8.62): Yes Gashi had the wonder strike, but otherwise he had not been doing much during the match. He went off injured at half time.
Kevin Doyle - 6 (6.55): Doyle was solid but was forced wide and deep many times. He did not get a good chance on goal or feed Badji, Gashi or Le Toux.
Sebastien Le Toux - 6 (7.23): Le Toux had a great strike in the first minute that could have been trouble for Rowe. Otherwise he was missing for parts of this match. His penalty kick was solid.
Dominique Badji - 7 (6.49): Badji gave it his all this match. He made some good runs, had a couple opportunities that just went wide, and had a header saved by Rowe. He got beat up by Jelle Van Damme, but also got some revenge late in the match on him.
Marlon Hairston - 8 (7.04): Hairston came on and immediately began terrorizing the Galaxy back line. When he started attacking up the right on Cole it created some opportunities. The Galaxy started giving Cole some help to handle the pace of Hairston.
Dillon Powers - 6 (6.40): Powers came on in the 83' for Jones and had a decent effort. Jones was gassed and this helped solidify the midfield.
Marco Pappa - N/A (6.62): He came on in the 112', so no rating. But he worked hard for the few minutes he was on and his penalty kick was solid.
That is how I saw the match. What do you think?