MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy 1-0 Colorado Rapids (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Objective no. 1 for the LA Galaxy in Sunday’s Western Conference semifinals first-leg clash with the Colorado Rapids: do not, under any circumstances, concede an away goal. Challenged accepted, and objective completed for Bruce Arena’s side, who even managed to grab a goal of their own — it could have been two or three if not for Tim Howard‘s heroics — through Giovani dos Santos early in the second half. After his side outlasted Real Salt Lake in the knockout round on Wednesday, Arena selected the same starting lineup in consecutive games for just the second time in 2016. That meant Robbie Keane began the game on the bench, with Alan Gordon playing as the lone striker; Steven Gerrard was not in the starting 11, but was available from the bench; Landon Donovan started a third straight game, dating back to the regular season. The Galaxy will feel assured in the one-goal advantage they take to Colorado next Sunday to face the second-lowest scoring side in the 2016 regular season.

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Three moments that mattered

22′ — Howard makes the save when Lletget gets in behind — Sebastian Lletget should probably put this one away, given he’s in one on one, but it was just one of those afternoons for Howard.

23′ — Howard flies off his line to deny a cross — If Howard doesn’t cut out this cross from Emmanuel Boateng, it’s a tap-in at the back post for Gordon.

55′ — Dos Santos heads home from Van Damme’s cross — Turns out, Jelle Van Damme, who was Herculean in every facet of the game and an easy selection as man of the match, is actually a winger.

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Men of the match: Jelle Van Damme

Goalscorers: Van Damme (55′)