The champagne will have to go back in the refrigerator. The trophy will have to go back in it's case. In front of a sellout crowd on a night advertised as the night the Galaxy could win the Supporter's Shield, 27,000 fans went home disappointed as the Galaxy lost to the Colorado Rapids 1 - 3.
The clinching goal came from Omar Cummings in the 67'. The speedy forward found himself up against an outmatched backfield on a counterattack and took a forward pass from Conor Casey and kicked it across Donovan Ricketts into the back of the net. The Galaxy at the time were on their best attack of the night, as Landon Donovan sliced through the Colorado defense, finding David Beckham on the right corner. Beckham's cross was picked up by Eddie Lewis, who crossed it back in to no one. Such a close chance with no attempt stunned the crowd and seemed to stun the Galaxy as well, watching as Omar put it in the other way.
Coach Bruce Arena was typically non-comittal after the match, giving Colorado credit but also saying he thought the Galaxy played well. When asked specifics about what Colorado did well, he said:
"They scored three goals. When they find another way to decide who wins and loses games...until they change the rules I think it's the team who scores the most points who wins, and that was the case tonight."
The first half was dominated by the Galaxy, with four shots on goal. The Galaxy still lead in the attempts department at the end of the game, six SoG to four, but Colorado came back with three attempts on target to the Galaxy's two in the second half. Colorado's first two second half attempts were taken by Jamie Smith and saved by Donovan Ricketts, who ended the game letting in more than he saved. The goal by Omar Cummings was Colorado's last shot attempt of the match.
Captain Landon Donovan was disappointed but level headed after the match:
"The result was bad. The performance actually wasn't bad. Until they scored I thought we played really well. The second half we dominated aside from a couple plays. We certainly didn't get any help from the officiating. We're bummed out but we still control our own destiny."
Indeed, despite Real Salt Lake's win tonight they still remain one point behind the Galaxy and will need help from FC Dallas to take the Shield. There's still much to be decided in the last week of play; with the Galaxy playing on Sunday they'll already know what type of result they need to take the trophy or if it's already theirs.
Much of that second half domination is the result of going into desperation mode, the Galaxy had 11 shot attempts in the second half. Edson Buddle kept finishing the balls he was given, but unfortunately he had two goals waved off due to offsides, the only offsides calls against the Galaxy all match. The offsides goal in the first half was fairly blatant, but the second half offsides goal was much more debatable, even after review.
Chris Birchall had to come off after a tough tackle. Bruce Arena didn't know if it was a contusion or something more serious.
Colorado's coach Gary Smith was pleased with the result:
"I'm delighted that we've clinched that playoff spot and I thought our performance in general warranted that. After a very bright start from the Galaxy I thought we got ourselves into the game, settled down and from that point on created some opportunity in the game."
He also talked for a moment about the Rocky Mountain Cup, which will be up for grabs in Colorado's last match against Real Salt Lake:
"It's a healthy competition, it's a good environment when they come in. I think given the way the last two seasons ended and the reason it's ended because of them, them going on and winning it all last year rubbed salt in our wound."