Soccer fans have been able to gorge on the sport this month, with an all-you-can watch buffet of televised games from the European Championships in the morning and the Copa America Centenario in the afternoon and evening.
The Galaxy and Colorado Rapids served up a little MLS side dish in the StubHub Center Wednesday night, and though it lacked the marque names and international fervor of the Euros and the Copa—as well as a goal—it was still rather appetizing.
The teams played to a 0-0 tie, but there was plenty of action in the attacking third of the field, a number of scoring chances—many off dangerous crosses—and several acrobatic saves by green-clad Galaxy goalie Brian Rowe, who earned his third shutout of the season.
“I actually thought it was a good, hard-fought game,” Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena said. “Our second half was certainly better than the first.”
The Western division-leading Rapids (9-2-5) extended their unbeaten streak to 11 games dating to April 9, when they lost at Real Salt Lake. The Galaxy (5-3-7) extended its winless streak to six games dating to May 9, when they beat New England, their longest slump in more than a year.
The Galaxy has also gone scoreless for three straight games and 305 minutes, but unlike a desultory effort in their last home game on June 2, when they mustered one weak shot—in the 69th minute—of a 0-0 tie with Sporting Kansas City, they put five shots on target and generated seven scoring chances Wednesday night.
Three minutes into the second half, forward Jack McBean, playing his first game of the season after being recalled from Galaxy II earlier Wednesday, settled a long goal kick from Rowe with his chest, turned and, after a bounce, launched a powerful left-footed volley from 25 yards that sailed a foot over the cross bar.
In the 79th minute, Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget beat a defender down the right side and sent a cross to Emmanuel Boateng, who was wide open in front of the goal, about 15 yards out. Bug Boateng’s left-footed shot was blocked by Colorado defender Dennis Castillo in front of goalie Zac MacMath.
Rowe’s instincts and decisive actions led to a pair of stops on point-blank shots by Colorado’s Marlon Hairston, one in the first half and one in the second.
In the 31st minute, Colorado had numbers on a counter-attack, and a nice entry pass from Kevin Doyle to Hairston created a one-on-one situation between Hairston and Rowe.
As Hairston dribbled into the penalty area, Rowe came off his line and made a sliding kick save with his right foot of Hairston’s shot to snuff out the threat.
The Rapids took advantage of another two-on-one situation in the 60th minuyte, with Doyle pushing a pass to the left of the goal box to a wide-open Hairston, whose shot was blocked again by a sliding Rowe. Rowe also made another nice stop of a Doyle shot in the 89th minujte.
“He made two or three very good saves,” Arena said of Rowe. “He was important.”
The Galaxy played without captain Robbie Keane (with Ireland at the Euros), forward Gyasi Zardes (with the U.S. team in the Copa) and right back Robbie Rogers, who will be out for six weeks after having ankle surgery this week.
But leading scorer Giovani dos Santos returned after missing last Saturday’s loss at Toronto because of a quadriceps strain, and midfielder Steven Gerrard, who missed the previous two games because of a hamstring injury, came on in the 61st minute and generated several scoring chances.
“When Gerrard got into a game, we had a couple of combinations that were pretty close to finishing off,” Arena said, “but we never quite got there.”