MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs LA Galaxy

Competition: MLS Cup Playoffs (Western Conference Semifinal – Second Leg) – Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Sunday, November 6 – 14:00 ET (19:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Colorado 1/1 – Draw 11/5 – LA Galaxy 11/4 

Match Preview

A place in the Western Conference Final is up for grabs on Sunday as Colorado Rapids welcome LA Galaxy to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the biggest game of the 2016 MLS campaign for these sides.

Colorado have work to do, they fell to a 1-0 defeat in the first leg last weekend. They are still more than in the game and know they are capable of progressing.

The Rapids now haven’t beaten Galaxy in their last three attempts, but the last meeting here ended with a Colorado win.

Pablo Mastroeni’s side are under a huge amount of pressure to perform, they just need to keep a calm mentality and start well. If they can get an early goal, or most importantly, the first goal in the game, the momentum will swing their way.

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LA Galaxy’s fate is in their own hands, avoid defeat and they’ve reached the Western Conference final, yet this game will be anything but straightforward.

Bruce Arena will be fully aware his side are going to be under pressure from the moment they step out to warm up. The Colorado fans are going to do everything possible to make this an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Giovani dos Santos’ strike was enough to give Galaxy a lead into the second leg, but it is a slender one, he, like many of LA’s star-players are going to have to dig deep and show what they’re made of.

Galaxy have plenty of players with big-game experience they will be relying on here. The LA defence are going to expect to face more than one shot on their goal as they did in the first leg, so it is important they’re switched on from the get-go.

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Team News

Colorado Rapids are expecting to be without Dillon Serna and Marlon Hairston for the second leg. Mastroeni’s starting XI are going to have to give everything from the off to ensure they give Galaxy their hardest game of the season.

LA Galaxy will be without Gyasi Zardes, while Steven Gerrard remains a doubt as continues to struggle with a hamstring injury.

Key Points

Colorado Rapids’ last five: W/W/L/D/L

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Fortress – Colorado are unbeaten in their last 17 games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. They need to make their home advantage count if they’re going to progress.

Key Player: Brian Rowe – The Galaxy ‘keeper is going to need to be at his best. Colorado are going to throw everything at him in this tie, he will be relied on as the last line of defence. Rowe will be looking to slow the game down all the while the result is in Galaxy’s favour, that will break up the flow of the tie and frustrate the Rapids.

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Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 1-1 LA Galaxy – Colorado to fall short in the semis. This has the makings of a cagey game with little to split the sides, much like the first leg. Galaxy will be looking to finish the job off, but know they could well regret not bringing a bigger advantage into the second leg if they’re not careful.

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MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to sell the NYCFC defenders ahead of Week 3?

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

The second week of the 2016 MLS season didn’t quite provide the insane quantity of goals, red cards and all round excitement as Week 1, but it was the first week that we could see which teams were settled – and which teams were far from decided on a strongest lineup. Highlights of the week included the 5-0 drubbing of FC Dallas by Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby and the magic of Sebastian Giovinco once again saving Toronto FC in their 2-2 draw with New York City FC.

Week 2 Review:

The Good:

Ignacio Piatti ($10.4) was at it again this week with a goal and an assist in the Impact’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. Throw in a shot bonus and some defending bonuses – as well as clean sheet points – and this left him with a grand total of 14 points for the week. However, unlike last week, two players managed to outscore Piatti in the shape of David Villa ($11.1) and Andrew Wenger ($7.3). Villa scored two early goals, including one from the penalty spot against Toronto FC before Sebastian Giovinco ($11.8) hauled Toronto back to a 2-2 draw. Wenger created two and finished one off himself to score a terrific 16 points in the Dynamo’s 5-0 win over Dallas, throwing down his credentials for the 2016 season in the process.

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The Bad:

Last season’s finalists FC Dallas had a nightmare start in their first away game, being battered 5-0 at Houston Dynamo. Matt Hedges ($8.9) didn’t look at all worthy of his high price tag, scoring an own goal and putting in an all-round poor performance as the 2015 Western Conference champions were humiliated by a side who hadn’t beaten Dallas in seven games before Sunday. Chicago Fire’s Michael Harrington ($5.2) picked up a red card during his side’s tough 1-1 draw at Orlando as both sides continued their winless starts to the season. The only other red card of the week was given to Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jordan Smith ($6.1). The defender was sent off in his side’s 2-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City, meaning a score of -3 and of course the customary suspension will follow.

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Week 3 Preview:

Must Buy:

We start at the back. With Houston and LA Galaxy’s first choice ‘keepers both injured, the chance has arrived for backup ‘keepers Brian Rowe ($4.7) and Joe Willis ($4.6) to deliver. They are both cheap options who are now both in the top three point-scoring goalkeepers in MLS Fantasy. They are certainly both making a statement as to why they should hold on to their place in future weeks and deserve consideration. At the opposite end of the pitch, Dominic Oduro ($7.7) of Montreal Impact has made an impressive start to the season, netting two goals and an assist in his opening two games, showing that Montreal at not missing Drogba’s absence. Up next for Montreal is a clash against a leaky FC Dallas side, who conceded five goals at Houston Dynamo. Oduro will see this as an opportunity to continue his solid start, as will Montreal who will be looking to make it three wins from three. Drogba is in line to start but Oduro should continue to be a high point-scorer for the next three weeks. In the centre of the park, Philadelphia’s Chris Pontius ($7.1) is a cheap midfielder who has certainly been worth his value so far. Two goals at the weekend away to Columbus show he is capable of getting on the scoresheet and with the New England Revolution game fast approaching, Pontius may be one of the best bets in fantasy for a budget attacking midfield option.

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Must Sell:

With the first set of international fixtures coming in Week 4, it’s time to be preparing which international call-ups to maybe sell. One definite call-up is Fanendo Adi ($10.0), who is heading to Africa to represent Nigeria in African Nations Cup qualifying. However, a home game against Real Salt Lake may mean managers will want to hang on to him for just one more week. MLS may be incredibly unpredictable but we seem to know one thing for certain at this stage – the NYCFC defence is far from settled and is very leaky. Especially with Vieira deciding to line up with three at the back against Toronto. As a result, it’s difficult to predict any starters in the NYCFC defence or whether they will ever actually gain a clean sheet this season. So, if you’ve got Frederic Brilliant ($8.0) or Jason Hernandez ($6.4), I’d recommend selling sooner rather than later.

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Freddie Shires’ side Jozy and the Pussycats banked an incredible 102 points this week, shooting him up to second in the MLSGB Fantasy League leaderboard. This tally’s primary creators were double-digit scorers Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa and Ignacio Piatti. However, at the top of the leaderboard is still Mack’s team Mack Legend with a grand total of 182 points after two weekends.

Who will you be bringing in for Week 3 in MLS Fantasy Soccer?