The LA Galaxy needed a win, and maybe a bit of help, to make up ground in the Western Conference playoff race and they got both on Saturday, with a 4-1 romp over the Colorado Rapids at Dignity Health Sports Park setting the scene to help them climb above the playoff line.
That effort was aided by Real Salt Lake losing, giving LA the tiebreaker advantage with the teams level on points, but the Galaxy did what they needed to in order to raise morale, pick up needed points and get on the right side of the playoff race for the time being.
Greg Vanney rotated a few players for his XI on the night, with Martin Caceres starting at center back in place of Derrick Williams, and Douglas Costa and Samuel Grandsir starting in attack around Chicharito.
With both teams needing a result, the Rapids started quickly, with Jonathan Lewis testing Jonathan Bond in the first four minutes, only for his attempt to sail wide of the mark, Bond’s defending doing enough to keep the attacker at bay.
Chicharito had a double chance in the 13th minute, forcing saves twice from Rapids GK William Yarbrough, both attempts solid from the striker.
The Galaxy got the breakthrough in the 22nd minute, when Gaston Brugman hit the one-timer in the box off a terrific feed from Grandsir that split the lines to make it a 1-0 game.
It got better, as Raheem Edwards scored after a spectacular individual effort, dribbling through half the field, beating Jack Price and hitting a curler in the corner to make it 2-0 in the 28th minute.
Not to be outdone, Chicharito got in on the goals three minutes later, with a terrific backheel goal on the run to really start the romp for LA.
LA wrapped up the first 45 with the 3-0 lead, completely dominant after a pretty even opening 10 minutes. It looked like the game was in hand, but with another 45 to play, the Galaxy still had plenty of work to do to see out the game.
After the Rapids tried to get a quick goal out of the restart to get back in the game but failed, Brugman had his second of the night in the 52nd minute, as he took a feed from Riqui Puig, dribbled, found space and unleashed the shot from the edge of the box to take the score to 4-0.
Chase Gasper replaced Edwards in the 56th minute, LA’s first change on the night.
The good vibes turned a bit for LA in the 62nd minute, as Costa got in a scuffle while trying to defend his teammate and went way overboard, trucking Michael Barrios before pushing Felipe Gutierrez in the face, all right in front of the referee, who promptly gave him a direct red card. It’s the Brazilian’s second red card in his debut season in MLS.
The Galaxy then made two more changes, but both in attack, as Dejan Joveljić and Efrain Alvarez entered for Chicharito and Grandsir in the 68th minute. On the bright side, with the game out of hand the Rapids weren’t pushing all that hard to punish LA for being a man light the final half hour.
Vanney’s final changes of the night were taking out Brugman and Mark Delgado, for Sacha Kljestan and Kevin Cabral in the 81st minute.
The only blight on the night came in the 91st minute, as Sam Nicholson scored a consolation goal for Colorado.
In the end, this was one of those fun home wins for the Galaxy, in which they essentially put the game out of reach in the first 45 and aimed to clean up their ability to see out the match in the 2nd half. Aside from Costa’s red card, which was an absolute boneheaded play, the Galaxy did well to see out the win. This is exactly what the doctor ordered, and with three games left, seeing Chicharito finally getting a goal after a mini-slump the last couple weeks and goals from unlikely scorers in Brugman and Edwards, maybe at long last the Galaxy have turned a corner and can find some consistency in order to reach the playoffs. We can hope.
The Galaxy are back in action next Saturday, when they’ll play the rescheduled California Clasico up in NorCal against the San Jose Earthquakes. It will come during a FIFA window, but that doesn’t look like it will significantly disrupt either side, so bring it on, another three points or bust here for LA.
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