Try as they might, the LA Galaxy were no match for the Colorado Rapids in penalty kicks, succumbing 3-1 Sunday afternoon in a shootout following extra time in the second leg of the Audi 2016 MLS Cup playoff Western conference semifinals.
LA’s season now ends in disappointment.
It was a fairly uneventful first half for LA at first. Ashley Cole and Daniel Steres made crucial stops as the Galaxy defense held firm, preventing the Rapids from creating clear-cut chances.
Up until the 36th minute that is, when Shkelzen Gashi was given time and space in the center of the field from 30 yards out and unleashed a dancing rocket of a blast that Brian Rowe had no chance of getting to before crashing off the right post and into the net.
The Rapids continued to press but LA got to halftime without conceding another, and on the final play of the first half, Cole and Gashi collided while making sliding challenges, resulting in an ankle injury for Gashi who was unable to return.
LA made one big sub at halftime, taking out Landon Donovan who was suffering from hamstring tightness and inserting Jeff Larentowicz.
Colorado kept up the presssure, and in the 63rd minute, substitute Marlon Hairston intercepted a poor pass out of the back, dribbling around Jelle Van Damme and eventually firing a weak shot that didn’t miss the post by much.
Roughly ten minutes later, Jermaine Jones brushed off Cole before playing a neat ball to Dominique Badji racing up the pitch, but with a great opportunity to shoot close to Rowe’s goal, Badji’s shot went hopelessly wide.
Bruce Arena brought on Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane to jump start the attack, only for Jelle Van Damme to awkwardly extend his knee and crumble to the grass with LA out of subs. Luckily however, the big Belgian was able to continue.
Extra time came and went without too much drama, and the match would be decided by penalty kicks.
LA went first, and Steven Gerrard placed his shot past Tim Howard and in.
Kevin Doyle then stepped up and shot at Brian Rowe, but luckily the ball squirted under Rowe’s dive to level the score at 1-1
Giovani dos Santos was unable to put his shot away, firing over the bar.
After Sebastian Le Toux and Marco Pappa put their attempts away in-between an Ashley Cole miss, Jeff Larentowicz was again stoned by Tim Howard, who saved three penalties in all as LA’s season ended in the thin Colorado air.