By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Since they snapped a four-match winless slide with a wild 4-3 victory over the Montreal Impact, the Colorado Rapids have become the hottest team in the Western Conference, going undefeated in the month of July.
On Saturday evening, the Rapids kept rolling with a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Colorado, now unbeaten in their last six league matches, did its damage shortly before and shortly after the halftime break, getting goals from midfielders Hendry Thomas and Dillon Powers.
The Colorado win made the day a disappointing homecoming for former Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni, who was playing in his first match against his old club since being traded last month.
After missing on several chances midway through the first half, Mastroeni’s former team grabbed the lead on his new team in the 41st minute. Thomas, who received a yellow card for two hard tackles in the opening minutes and controversially drew one off what was ruled a foul on Galaxy midfielder Juninho, put a header off a Powers corner kick straight into the back of the net.
The Rapids took their narrow lead into the halftime break and doubled it shortly after kickoff. After playing a fine one-two with former Galaxy forward Edson Buddle, Powers cut through the middle of the visiting defense and fired a shot past Carlo Cudicini to make it 2-0. The midfielder from Notre Dame now has four goals and four assists so far in his rookie season.
The Galaxy, who were without offensive leaders Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, started to create more chances after falling behind by two goals. Rookie Gyasi Zardes threatened to spoil the Rapids’ third shutout in five matches, but the forward’s late efforts were off the mark.
While Los Angeles tried to find a way back into the match, Colorado threatened to push its lead out even further. Even though the visitors controlled more of the second half possession, Thomas and Buddle came very close to making it 3-0 on several occasions.
Colorado (9-7-3), who moved up to second in the West with the victory, will host conference leaders Real Salt Lake next Saturday. Los Angeles (10-9-3) starts a three-match set in the International Champions Cup on Thursday and will return to league action on August 11 with a road match against FC Dallas.
Here are the match highlights: