Shock Upset as Rapids Fall 2-0 to LA in Conference Championship

DENVER CO (November 5 2005)-The Colorado Rapids fell one game short of reaching the 2005 MLS Cup tonight dropping a 2-0 decision to the #4-seeded Los Angeles Galaxy at INVESCO field at Mile High.

The loss marked the first time the Rapids had lost to LA in their home stadium in over 3 years the last occassion being a 1-0 loss on October 9 of 2002. It was also the first time since April 17 of 2004 that the Rapids allowed the Galaxy to score a goal in Invesco Field.

(To view video highlights from this match CLICK HERE).

The Rapids' first opportunity came early in the fourth minute when a free kick from Eric Denton was just barely tipped over the crossbar by Galaxy goalie Kevin Hartman.

Terry Cooke created another near opportunity for the Black in Blue when he curved a free kick in to the near side post almost slipping it into the net. However Hartman kept his line and knuckled the curving ball just outside the goalpost saving the Galaxy for a second time in the early going.

Joe Cannon was on his toes for Los Angeles’ retaliation in the 18th minute. LA's Landon Donovan drove the ball low and tight to the far post but a diving Cannon made the save to keep the game scoreless.

Ten minutes later the Galaxy drew first blood when midfielder Cobi Jones crossed a ball to the near post where he found teammate Landon Donovan. The U.S. National team player one-timed the cross and directed his left-footed shot past Cannon in the 28th minute.

The 32nd minute brought the Rapids faithful to their feet. A corner kick from the boot of Cooke and then a one-touch by Jean Philippe Peguero put the ball in the back of Galaxy’s net but it was called back by referee Brian Hall. Cooke had to re-take the corner which came to nothing as the visitors cleared the ball out of danger.

Rapids fans lept to their feet once again in the 38th minute. Jean Philippe Peguero was chasing a ball into the Galaxy's box when Chris Albright reached out and shoved him down only to hear no whistle from the man in charge.

The Rapids suffered yet another foul in the 71st minute as Haitian forward Fabrice Noel was closing in on goal with an apparent one-on-one with the keeper. A slide tackle from behind from Los Angeles defender Tyrone Marshall sent Noel flying face- first yet the red-cardable offense went overlooked and Marshall escaped with only a yellow card.

Los Angeles nailed the Rapids’ coffin shut in the 89th minute when all-time MLS playoff goalscoring leader Landon Donovan fought off three of the Rapids defenders to create a one-on-one situation with Cannon. In a split second Donovan netted yet his second goal of the game making it a 2-0.

In the final minutes of injury time the Rapids received their last opportunity as a free kick from Cooke curved into the box and slammed into the crossbar but carommed off and out of danger saving the shutout for the Galaxy and moving them into MLS Cup 2005 in Frisco Texas.

Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy
Western Conference Championship
Nov. 5 2005

Colorado Rapids Man of the Match: Pablo Mastroeni

SCORING:

LAG- Landon Donovan (Cobi Jones) 28th
LAG- Landon Donovan (unassisted) 88th
COL-None

LINEUPS:

COL- Joe Cannon Leo Cullen (Fabrice Noel 65) Mike Petke Eric Denton Terry Cooke Kyle Beckerman (Diego Serna 79) Pablo Mastroeni Jovan Kirovski Dedi Ben-Dayan (Ritchie Kotschau 54) Jean Phillippe Peguero Jeff Cunningham.
Subs Not Used: Byron Foss Ricky Lewis Dan Gargan Luchi Gonzalez Hunter Freeman Nat Borchers.

LAG- Kevin Hartman Chris Albright tyrone Marshall Ugo Ihemelu Todd Dunivant Cobi Jones (Ednaldo da Conceicao 94+) Paulo Nagamura Pete Vagenas Ned Grabavoy (Marcelo Saragosa 70) Herculez Gomez (Alan Gordon 81).
Subs Not Used: Steve Cronin Pablo Chinchilla.

Misconduct Summary:
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Reckless Foul) 22
LA -- Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Persistent Infringement) 25
LA -- Tyrone Marshall (caution; Tackle from Behind) 71

Referee: Brian Hall
Referee's Assistants: Thomas Supple; Nate Clement
4th official: Abbey Okulaja
Time of game: 1:57
Attendance: 12789
Weather: Clear -and- 39 degrees

COLORADO RAPIDS POSTGAME QUOTE SHEET

HEAD COACH FERNANDO CLAVIJO

"First of all congratulations to the Galaxy. They came out to do a job and they did it. We just missed a little bit. We were not as sharp as we should have been. Give credit to the Galaxy."

On First Half Concerns:
"Our left side which is where the goal came from. Cobi Jones and Chris Albright were exposing us a little bit. We missed an opportunity but we need to open up. They executed and we had a couple of chances. The Rapids' goal was disallowed I don’t know what happened there but it’s been that way the whole season."

On conceding the first goal:
"I think it shocked us a little bit. We knew they were going to come that way. We should have fouled (Jones) before but we didn’t. We talked about Cobi Jones and Landon (Donovan) and we just didn’t do the job quick enough to close him down. We knew exactly what they were going to do but we just couldn’t execute to stop them."

On play of Landon Donovan:
"You have to give him credit. He is a very good player we all know. We talked about it. Pablo (Mastroeni) was marking him well unfortunately he (Pablo) got a yellow card right away like (Nat) Borchers did the last time we played LA and he played handicapped the rest of the game. He had to be carefully any fouls that he committed could be another yellow card and red. Give him (Donovan) credit he is in to score goals and he scored them when they need it."

On key absences:
"Yeah of course (we did miss Nat Borchers) but I think the biggest miss we had was Alain Nkong in the midfield. But no excuses like I said before they won and congratulations and good luck in the final."

DEFENDER MIKE PETKE

On the play of Landon Donovan:
"He had the best defender in the league on him and he still just got away hats off to him. Pablo played him well that’s just Landon Donovan he's one of the best players in the league. The second goal was a garbage time goal not taking away from them but we were pushing forward. There should have been a better result today there should have been a better product on the field. We made it to the Western Conference Finals so I’m not complaining."

GOALKEEPER JOE CANNON

"I think tonight was frustrating. I think you could say we had the better end of the play but towards the end of the game they dropped back and let us have the play. They didn’t mind us trying to have possession and that’s football you give up the first goal and the other team is going to drop back espically during the playoffs. It was an interesting night."

On the Rapids' slow start:
"There are a lot of reasons. I think you have to look at it individually and collectively but for the most part maybe it was just bad nerves or lack of experience at this level. I don’t really know to be honest. I’m a little disappointed the effort as a team we were a bit flat tonight. The result is fine but the effort is what I’m disappointed in."

On the play of Landon Donovan:
"I think Landon is definitely the difference if you look at the game. He is just a player that when he decides to turn it on he can do things that other players can’t. My hat goes off to him. LA game in with a great game plan. They knew we were going to come out at them and they waited and counter-attacked and I thought both guys worked pretty hard up top."