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LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids, 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs: Match Preview

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MLS: Colorado Rapids at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Conference Semifinals are here! The LA Galaxy play host to the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of their 2016 MLS playoffs clash.

The Galaxy were far and away the better team against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, earning a 3-1 win at home. As so many games in this MLS campaign have illustrated, there is an argument that the Galaxy have the deepest squad in the league. Against Real Salt Lake, injuries to Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane didn’t appear to have punctured the Galaxy’s chances. In contrast, players seemed to have relished the opportunity. This time, it was Emmanuel Boateng’s turn to shine, and the former UCSB forward broke through with two goals to his name. Alan Gordon also helped out by scoring the night’s first.

At the same time, at home, the Galaxy have been abnormally difficult to beat, only losing once during the regular season. That, however, is offset by the fact that the Colorado Rapids finished the regular season with the best home record in the league, and that’s all the more relevant here because, in a two-game aggregate series, away goals count.

Indeed, the Rapids have played the role of overachieving outsiders this season, and up until their final game of the regular season, they were still in the discussion of the Supporters’ Shield race. With the arrivals of USMNT veterans Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones, coach Pablo Mastroeni has done an excellent job at the helm. The Rapids are not by any means an attacking side, but Mastroeni has kept a nice balance, while keeping things tight at the back as evidenced by a league-low 32 goals conceded.

If Bruce Arena’s men can get a win here, it may just force the Rapids to attack at home, where they only registered 20 goals this season. However, we can expect a tight affair at StubHub Center, and all things considered, a cleansheet may just be enough in this game for the five-time MLS Cup champions.

LAST MEETING

LA Galaxy 1-1 Colorado Rapids - August 14, 2016 - MLS

Shkëlzen Gashi opened the scoring for the Rapids, but the Galaxy replied quickly through Giovani dos Santos to grab a point at home.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

LA Galaxy (4-2-3-1): Rowe; Rogers, DeLaGarza, Van Damme, Cole; Gerrard, Larentowicz; Boateng, dos Santos, Lletget; Keane

Colorado Rapids (4-2-3-1): Howard; Miller, Watts, Sjoberg, Burch; Jones, Powers; Le Toux, Doyle, Gashi; Badji