Shkelzen Gashi knows he has a big left foot. We’ve seen him unleash it on free-kicks and try at least a couple shots from distance every game. He’s come close several times, but his long blasts from outside the box just never seemed to find the back of the net. Until tonight. In a game in which the Rapids needed it most, Gashi found the shot he’d been looking for all season, letting a sweet first-time shot fly just outside the box giving the Rapids a one goal lead.
In a game in which the Rapids needed it most, Gashi found the shot he’d been looking for all season, letting a sweet first-time shot fly, just outside the box, giving the Rapids a one-goal lead 51 minutes into the game.
Gashi’s goal was a true beauty, a mix of accuracy and power that found it’s way into the top left corner where Galaxy goalie Brian Rowe could do nothing but watch. In a game that saw Colorado playing on their back heels the majority of the time, the Albanian star's score almost allowed the away team steal the win.
LA wasn't without chances throughout. First, seeing Gyasi Zardes get stopped when face-to-face with Howard and also when the Galaxy hit the post on a Jelle Van Damme header off a corner, the lead seemed too good to be true. It was.
Those hopes died quickly as the Rapids lead only lasted a full eleven minutes before the Galaxy scored on a corner kick that was poorly marked. Leading up to the corner, Colorado’s defense got sliced by dangerous, speedy winger Emmanuel Boateng who dribbled by two defenders and shot. A remarkable Tim Howard pushed his attempt out of bounds for a corner, only to delay the inevitable.
On the corner, the Galaxy found defender Daniel Steers, who flicked the ball towards the far post with a header. Three LA players found themselves in the corner to easily tap the ball in for the tie, with Daniel Steres getting the official tally.
The match began fairly cagey, with both teams studying each other at the start. Los Angeles began to find holes in the Rapids defense, in large part thanks to some masterful passing by Steven Gerrard.
The Liverpool legend pulled the strings in midfield for the home team and created both big scoring chances in the first half. It would be his right foot off the LA corner that would lead to the Galaxy’s timely goal.
Los Angeles dominated the first 30 minutes, controlling possession at an almost 60% clip in the first half. As the second half began, the Rapids made a change, taking out Dominique Badji for Sebastian Le Toux. The visitors attack maneuvering gained courage and started to create more danger in the first 15 minutes of the second half until finding the goal.
Colorado’s control of the game lasted briefly as LA found their score and then took command of the game forcing more danger.
Tim Howard had a terrific game with some big-time saves when called upon, largely keeping the Rapids in a tough match. His biggest moment came early on when Steven Gerrard found Zardes streaking forward on the counter-attack. One-on-one with his fellow US Men’s National Teamer, Howard stretched out on the ground, stuck out his big left paw and rejected the Galaxy’s talented young striker.
Without Howard, the Rapids would have almost certainly allowed that goal and potentially a couple more. Defensively, Colorado didn’t press very high and allowed too much space for the Galaxy to create danger on the counter.
For the longest time, the Galaxy couldn’t punish the Rapids defensive lapses until the Boateng run created the corner that eventually lead to LA’s goal.
In a crazy evening that saw Western standings leaders, FC Dallas, pull off a rollercoaster tie, the Rapids came out of it with a result that could have been much worse.
Considering the quality of the opponent and importance of the bout in the playoff hunt, the result for the Rapids is nothing to scoff at. One point against a direct Western Conference rival in an away game is a big get for Colorado and one could argue they stole even the one point.