Live: Colorado Rapids (10-7-11) at Galaxy (14-3-10) from Home Depot Center

Final: Galaxy 1 Colorado Rapids 0

The Galaxy became the first MLS club to qualify for the playoffs this season with their 15th win of the year. A bit of a foregone conclusion, of course, considering they lead the league with 55 points, but still the majority of the crowd of 20,060 will go home happy.

Beckham moved uncomfortably and in visible discomfort for the last ten minutes or so of the game.

The second half was a lot quieter than the first, an 88th minute Landon Donovan shot that needed the busy Matt Pickens to make yet another save one of the offensive highlights.

But Donovan Rickets picked up where he left off with a seventh shutout on the year on his return from injury.

More later.

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David Beckham took a nasty fall and landed on his back in the 81st minute; he rose holding it. He was listed as questionable with from back spasms before the game; the Galaxy have used all three subs.

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Michael Stephens has replaced Juninho, who leaves the field walking gingerly, in the Galaxy midfield in the 74th minute.

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Mike Magee has replaced Paolo Cardozo in the 67th minute; Magee received a rousing reception and appears to have cultivated quite the cult following among Galaxy fans for his exploits this season in both offense and goal.

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Wells Thompson had a goal disallowed for offside in the 57th minute; I’m not convinced he was in an offside position when he nipped in to score from a rebound off the goalkeeper, although he certainly was as the initial shot was taken. Hmmmm.

Not much of a protest from Rapids players, however.

Robbie Keane has come on to replace the largely anonymous Chad Barrett in the 60th minute.

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The stats do tell the story of this one so far: a dozen Galaxy shots to the Rapids’ two; seven of those efforts on target for the home team compared to just one for the visitors; and Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens has been required to make six saves to Donovan Ricketts’ one.

Live wire Paolo Cardozo, making his first start as a pure striker this season – his previous starts was as withdrawn forward/midfielder – has five of those shots and is out-shining Chad Barrett who has just one to his name.

A fun game if you’re a Galaxy fan; the Rapids need to find more forward momentum.

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It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the Galaxy scored and they duly did so on a Landon Donovan shot in the 36th minute.

That ties Donovan with Thierry Henry for the MLS lead for goals with 12 on the year.

A nice move too, which saw David Beckham on the right wing pass the ball to Chad Barrett, who turned and created time and space for him to feed Sean Franklin who in turn passed to Donovan (beating two defenders with the dish in the process) who efficiently shot the ball home with his first touch from 18 yards.

A deserved lead for the Galaxy.

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It’s the 33rd minute and if memory serves the Rapids just had their first shot on target tonight, a low attempt easily saved by Ricketts.

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This is a good attacking spell for the Galaxy: Cardozo just forced Matt Pickens to make another save on the half hour mark at the near post. The reserve Galaxy striker is making the most of this opportunity.

That opportunity came shortly after Todd Dunivant forced Matt Pickens to make a finger tip save when the Galaxy defender nodded a David Beckham free kick toward the goal from seven yards out, following up on another Paolo Cardozo shot from about 19 yards.

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Paolo Cardozo just sent a shot over the bar from about 21 yards out after he was set up by Landon Donovan, staying wide out on the left wing so far tonight, in the 21st minute.

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Paolo Cardozo just had the Galaxy’s best chance of the night in the 17th minute, gliding by Kosuke Kimura on the left wing to launch a shot at Matt Pickens’ goal.

Moments before the first David Beckham free kick of the night required Pickens to punch it away, setting up the sequence that led to Cardozo’s shot.

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A muggy night, a sparse crowd (hello, prep football) and Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena has the squad rotation in full effect.

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts returns from injury for his first start since June, Bryan Jordan slots in at right back for his second start of the season, Paolo Cardozo starts up front in his third start of the season and Chad Barrett is alongside him for his first start since, um, Monday.

The Galaxy XI: Ricketts-Jordan, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Dunivant-Franklin, Beckham, Juninho, Donovan-Barrett, Cardozo.

Robbie Keane, after his exertions for Ireland, is on the bench.

The Rapids start former Galaxy central defender Tyrone Marshall and have a forward line consisting of Caleb Folan and Macoumba Kandji.

Conor Casey, of course, is out with a left achilles tear.

The game is on Fox Soccer Channel.

Refresh this post for updates throughout the game.

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  • RG Mr.Soccer

    Gee, Nick. I hate to be the offside police, but what’s your point saying about Thompson’s offside no-goal, “I’m not convinced he was in an offside position when he nipped in to score from a rebound off the goalkeeper, although he certainly was as the initial shot was taken. Hmmmm.”

    As you said, he was certainly in an offside position when Nyassi took the shot as clearly seen at 56:41. That’s the moment when Thompson’s position was judged. Then after the rebound off Rickets, Thompson gained an advantage by being in that offside position. Offside. Easy.

    It was good to see the big man back in goal. And the Cordoza kid sure looked promising.

    Good win for the Galaxy.

  • http://www.insidesocal.com/soccer Nick Green

    I’ve just looked at the highlights on YouTube (and will post them shortly).

    The pertinent part of the offside law here is whether Wells was seeking to gain an unfair advantage by being in an offside position.

    I don’t believe he was. Yes, Wells was a step offside when the initial shot was taken, but he was moving away from the goal.

    In fact, when the ball came off the keeper he was onside. He was not interfering with play when he was offside or when the shot was taken.

    FIFA has said – although it is rarely done in practice – that attackers should be given the benefit of the doubt, especially in close calls. That should have occurred here.

    I respectfully disagree with the offside police in this case.

  • studs and elbows down but the flag way up

    Here we go again, another LA game and another interesting offside call.

    The KC call was a correct but a “cruel” call in my opinion of a flawed law. The LA call was a correct one in my opinion and consistent with the good intent of the same flawed law. IMHO, Thompson created the dis-advantage by being way offside prior to the shot and never recovered enough to be onside. He was offside and a distraction which is the good reason for the offside rule. In KC, Collin was never a distraction and just tried to play the ball when closely marked. He was ruled offside just because some part of his torso was beyond the last defender. That is a bad part of the law that punishes a positive attempt.

    Now, let’s rip into the TV coverage of these games. Why is it that they won’t show a proper replay with stop action and the offside line super-imposed and/or back and forth replay while the shot is being taken during these games? What is so difficult about that now days? I can understand the idiot directors may not know any better but you figure with so many soccer people in broadcasting now that they should demand it themselves. Very frustrating.

    PS – that first half was the best half of soccer I have seen any MLS team play all year. Amazing team effort with outstanding display by Cardozo. Can you imagine where Landon Donovan could be if he could dribble like him?

  • RG Mr.Soccer

    studs [...]

    I agree. The simple and obviously available technology helps with the objective part of the offside call, the player’s position at the moment the ball is played by a teammate. His intent doesn’t matter. The only criteria here is if he is closer to the goal line than the second-to-last defender, the ball, and the halfway line. If so, he is in an offside position.

    The more subjective part of Law 11 is the judgment of being involved in active play.

    Interestingly, it seems like even with video evidence, the objective decision is often in more dispute than the subjective one.

    Fun stuff.