A ninetieth minute effort from Sam Nicholson secured Colorado’s first win in over a month as the Rapids fought back from a goal down to defeat the L.A. Galaxy 2-1, shattering the Southern Californians’ nine-game unbeaten streak.
“A thing we’ve had all season that we saw tonight is having to create our own belief,” Manager Anthony Hudson explained after the match. “When we actually back ourselves and play positive and aggressive and most importantly as a team, when we’re like that – we give ourselves belief and that’s what we got tonight.”
Belief was certainly necessary for a Rapids side that controlled the match from the start, but found themselves down a goal midway through the first half at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
For the third time in as many games, Hudson utilized his “second system” – the 4-4-2-Diamond. With Giles Barnes out with an ankle injury, Jack McBean made the start up top alongside Sam Nicholson, Jack Price shifted to his natural position to make way for Enzo Martinez in the No. 10 role, and no changes were made to the Rapids’ back line.
“It definitely suits us,” Sam Nicholson said of the formation, “the team has adapted to it really well.”
On the other side of the field, L.A. was without international superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was suspended a match per MLS policy for refusing to play in the All-Star Game on Wednesday.
While the Rapids enjoyed more than a handful of chances at the start – including a fifth-minute strike from Nicholson that pinged off the crossbar – the Galaxy would strike first in the thirty-third minute. A miscommunication between defenders Kortne Ford and Tommy Smith gifted Romain Alessandrini an easy shot in the box that easily beat Tim Howard at his near post.
“Going down 1-0 in a game where we dominated is definitely frustrating,” midfielder Kellyn Acosta lamented, “it kind of slowed things down for us and kind of created [an] unbalance.”
L.A. Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid also admitted to the media that the goal “was a little bit against the run of play.”
Indeed, the Rapids dominated possession on the night (ending with a season-high 59%). Jack Price – anchoring the base of the midfield diamond for the first time since the formation switch – was largely responsible for the team’s midfield control. The Englishman racked up 75 total passes and only failed to connect 7% of his attempts. Yet, despite dominating the play, Colorado lacked a killer instinct in the final third.
“In the first half, we weren’t clinical on our chances,” Acosta explained, “overall we created the opportunities, but we have to be more and more clinical.”
Then, five minutes into the second half, Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos attempted to intercept one of Price’s passes to Acosta. When Dos Santos whiffed and lost his balance, Acosta sprinted up field and fired a left-footed, long-range, driven shot across goal that narrowly avoided David Bingham’s fingertips. The Rapids faithful roared with approval as Colorado had finally found the back of the net.
In the sixty-fourth minute, disaster nearly struck for the Rapids. Acosta lost the ball in midfield after a heavy touch and Alessandrini quickly broke away with Ola Kamara on the ensuing counterattack. Before the Galaxy frontman could get a shot off in the box, Kortne Ford slid in to clear the ball out for a corner.
Colorado and L.A. would each enjoy a couple of chances apiece late in the second half, but the match was not decided until the ninetieth minute.
Substitute Bismark “Nana” Adjei-Boateng split the Galaxy’s defense with a through-ball to Edgar Castillo on the left flank. The fullback teed up Sam Nicholson at the penalty spot and the Scotsman found the game-winning goal.
“That was a lovely ball from [Castillo],” Nicholson said, beaming in his post-match interview, “I sort of mishit it, not going to lie, but I’m just glad it went in.”
Acosta pridefully acknowledged post-match that the team is “happy with the result” and that the Rapids will “build on this” performance for the rest of the season.
Colorado will definitely get the chance to do so when they host San Jose Earthquakes on August 11. The Quakes have only won three times all year and are averaging 0.74 points per game.
Image Credit: Ryan Madden