It was a game that everyone knew was going to be cagey. It ended up being exactly that with LA winning on an ugly deflected goal after a bit of skill from Van Damme. Colorado only had 1 shot on target, while LA had 4 shots on target with Tim Howard making a few stellar saves.
Other than a stint a few minutes into the second half, the Galaxy also took very good care of the ball - their passing accuracy as a team hit 88%.
After watching this starting XI gel, Galaxy fans are left wondering if Keane will once again be a sub in the second leg of this playoff series. Based on Gio and Gordon's performance, the answer continues to be yes. Gordon does a wonderful Number 9 job, drawing defenders with his body and physicality to create space for the four midfielders behind him.
If LA can repeat this performance away in Colorado (and in altitude), they should be the team proceeding into the West finals.
- Jelle Van Damme - read multiple breakaways well, intercepting passes from Colorado. His bit of nutmeg skill resulted in the ball to Dos Santos for LA's opening goal, and gave him an assist. Watching him against Jermaine Jones is like watching two cage fighters. He's a commanding figure on the backline and should be in contention for MLS defender of the year.
- Alan Gordon - passing game surprisingly good in this one (only 3 missed passes with a lovely flick in the 7th minute leading to a dangerous counter). He is critical to creating the space for the rest of the midfield to operate. He's been on fire to enter these playoffs.
- Sebastian Lletget - Tested Howard with a nice shot in the first half. His Opta charts show him to be *everywhere*. And I mean everywhere - he's all over the pitch. Left, right, center, defending with great recovery runs. So glad Bruce has left him in the middle.
- Robbie Rogers - his runs out of the back generated three yellow cards for the Rapids. He also had a decent ball into the box, but also a few ballooned ones. Still was the more dangerous out of the two backs, and has a very good rapport with Landon Donovan.
- Giovani Dos Santos - had the header that was deflected into goal for the winning goal in this game. Also had three key passes. The pundits aren't speaking about building the Galaxy around him for nothing. Took him a bit to get into the game, but when he's bright, the team is bright.
- Brian Rowe - Didn't have much to do this game, though came up with a decent save on a far out Jones shot. Did get himself into trouble with a bad pass out of the back that Jones came up with, but was saved by Cole.
- Baggio Husidic - I wrote the other day he and Lletget are developing a solid partnership. That was the case again with this one. They know what the other is going to do, and protect one another - as evidenced by shutting Jermaine Jones down after a few dicey minutes. Only two misplaced passes.
- Daniel Steres - solid defensive block at the very beginning of the game, clearing a dangerous ball. Quietly had almost as many defensive actions as Van Damme. That's two games with no brain farts (ssssshhhhhh...no jinx).
- Ashley Cole - huge defensive play against Jones in the 75th minute after an uncharacteristic poor Van Damme lunge and tackle. Recovered to pick Jones' pocket. Even started to get involved in the offense towards the end of the game.
- Landon Donovan - He looked a little out of gas in this one with a few misplaced passes and some slow counters, but if you had told me in June that he was going to start in three games in one week in October I would have asked if your imaginary friend was doing okay. He did have three key passes, so I think I might be grading him a little hard.
- Emmanuel Boateng - didn't use his speed to the best of his ability, and his crosses went awry at times. Also had a tendency to run himself into blind corners in this one. That said, it's been a good week.
Magee, Keane and Larentowicz did their job protecting the ball and being veterans managing out the game.