Mike Magee converted a penalty five minutes into the second half, and the Los Angeles Galaxy moved atop the Western Conference with victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
Magee scored after Rapids center back Drew Moor was sent off for elbowing Marcelo Sarvas in the face in an off-the-ball incident, a major setback for Colorado after losing starting midfielder Pablo Mastroeni and center back Diego Calderon to injuries in the first half.
The Galaxy (2-0-1) dictated play throughout and outshot Colorado 21-5, but Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin, starting in place of injured Matt Pickens, made seven saves, including outstanding stops on teenage forwards Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean.
”If we’re at fault tonight, certainly keeping (Colorado) around for 90 minutes was a flaw in our performance,” said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, whose team gave up a late lead last week against Chivas USA.
”I think we had chances to get the second and third goal. Give them credit: They never quit. Their goalkeeper played extremely well. At the end of the game, at least we were solid enough this week to make sure we got the three points.”
Los Angeles, playing without star striker Robbie Keane and defender Omar Gonzalez – both away on international duty – went young up front with Villarreal and McBean, who came close to scoring several times before Magee netted his MLS-best fourth goal of the season.
Villarreal came nearest, forcing a diving save from Clint Irwin after a 3rd-minute corner kick and chipping over the goalkeeper from just outside the box in the 32nd, a shot that was cleared off the goal line by Calderon. The Ecuadorian defender bruised his right quadriceps when he subsequently crashed into the right post.
Mastroeni, the Rapids’ captain making his return from a hamstring injury, limped off in the 27th minute after straining his left quad tackling Los Angeles winger Colin Clark.
The game changed when Moor hit Sarvas just below the left eye. Referee Armando Villarreal checked with his linesman before awarding the penalty kick and pulling out the red card, and Moor was already walking off the field when he was ejected.
”I have no idea … I don’t know where it came from,” Sarvas said. ”I didn’t say anything to him. He was just walking. I stopped in front of him. I don’t know, he probably lost his mind. For sure.”
Moor called it a ”sudden reaction” and said he ”kind of moved my arm back in his direction and made contact.”
”It’s not like me,” he said. ”I’m disappointed in myself. I’m most disappointed I let my team down because of it, gave away a PK, and they had to play a man down.”
Colorado (0-3-1) sits last in the nine-team West and 18th among 19 clubs in the overall standings.
Chris Wondolowski scored just before halftime and the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night.
San Jose (2-1-1) beat Seattle (0-2-1) for the fourth straight time in regular-season play, building on a sweep of three contentious meetings last year.
It was the second score this season for Wondolowski, who tied MLS’ career record with 27 goals last season – including two winners against Seattle.
Wondolowski brought down a long pass that skidded off the head of Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado at the edge of the Sounders’ penalty area. Wondolowski’s touch was gentle enough that he ran onto the ball for a 22-yard strike that curled around Seattle’s sliding Djimi Traore. The ball barely escaped the reach of Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning before ricocheting in off the far post in the 46th minute.
Gspurning kept San Jose from adding an insurance goal with a stop on Shea Salinas’ redirection shot in the 61st minute.
San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch made two critical saves in the 75th minute, diving to stop Mauro Rosales’ half-volley from the top of the box, then scrambling to deflect David Estrada’s rebound attempt at point-blank range.
The Earthquakes narrowly avoided disaster in the 84th minute when Ty Harden’s back pass came up well short. But Estrada appeared to overrun to ball some 35, perhaps spooked by an onrushing Busch.
Busch plucked a swerving long-range free kick from Osvaldo Alonso in the 89th minute to stifle Seattle’s last chance.