View from the Booth: Injuries, ejection, and lack of goals

Play-by-play announcer Richard Fleming gives his take on the Rapids road loss at LA

COL and LA wall on March 23, 2013

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USA Today Sports Images

You don't need me to tell you that after losing your two center backs and influential captain inside 50 minutes, life in LA was always going to be tough.

Pablo Mastroeni has had no luck since returning. First the hamstring strain during the Union loss, and now this. His first-half departure with a pulled quad brought on Tony Cascio, and Oscar Pareja was forced into an early re-shuffle.

Diego Calderon's injury just moments later, sustained as he cleared off the line and collided with a post, triggered the introduction of Chris Klute for the first time this season. All of this before the break.

And then the uncharacteristic reaction from Drew Moor only minutes into the second half left the Rapids down a man and - when Mike Magee converted the penalty - down by what turned out to be the decisive goal.

Moor's dismissal meant Pareja was forced - for the third time in the game - into making a substitution he hadn't planned on. Kevin Harbottle was sacrificed for the defensive-minded Shane O'Neill.

So that, in a nut-shell, is the back-drop to the chaos which unfolded inside the Home Depot Center on Saturday evening.

But (you knew that was coming) … let's wind back to the contest before Mastroeni's exit, and the point at which Pareja's pre-match plans began to unravel.

Inside the opening five minutes, the Galaxy had already carved out numerous goal-scoring chances.

Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal were a real handful. The teenagers terrorized the Rapids defense with their darting runs, crafty use of space and the ability to drag defenders out of position. Those two peppered Clint Irwin's goal early on. The Rapids' 'keeper, though, was the one shining light on Saturday, confident and commanding, he punched, caught and blocked much of what the MLS Cup winners threw at him - and he almost got to Magee's spot kick.

So, let's not cloud the concerns. Irwin did his job, and he did it well. But the Galaxy were the dominant force, even before Mastroeni and Calderon left the field.

The hammer blow came with Moor's dismissal, compounded by the fact that the incident led to the winning goal. O'Neill didn't look out of place alongside Marvell Wynne, whilst Klute appeared unfazed and assured at left back.

Look at the results so far this season. The three losses have all been by a single goal. Defensively - though having to withstand sustained pressure at times - the Rapids have been pretty tight.

It's at the other end where I have my concerns. Against the Galaxy, creativity was sorely lacking. The Rapids best hope - particularly when down a man - came from set pieces.

Of course, losing three senior players was a factor. It disrupted the fluidity and affected the shape of the side.

But bagging just two goals in four games will be a worry. Prior to the Galaxy game, that worry was tempered slightly by the fact that chances were being created. On Saturday that was rarely the case.

In this game, if you don't concede goals, then you're not going to lose. Equally, if you don't score goals, then you're not going to win. Goals win games, and the Rapids need to start winning.