MLS Cup Playoffs: Colorado Rapids 1-0 (1-1 | 3-1 PKs) LA Galaxy

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Colorado Rapids are through to the Western Conference finals following a tedious, scoring chance-starved second-leg affair against the LA Galaxy on Sunday, which ended 1-0 to the Rapids, for a 1-1 final score on aggregate. Giovani dos Santos skied the Galaxy’s second spot-kick attempt (Steven Gerrard converted their first) and Tim Howard denied Ashley Cole and Jeff Larentowicz in the ensuing two rounds. The Rapids advance on penalties, 3-1. Gerrard has likely played his final game in MLS, and Landon Donovan is now faced with the decision between returning for another year or re-retiring. In the conference finals, which begin in two weeks’ time, the Rapids will likely face the Seattle Sounders, who hold a 3-0 aggregate lead over Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas ahead of Sunday’s second leg in Frisco.

[ MORE: MLS Cup Playoffs roundtable discussion ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Gashi lets one rip from 35 yards, and we’re level — When’s the last time you saw a ball move like this? Impossible for Brian Rowe to deal with.

66′ — Van Damme destroys Badji, no card shown — This is a red card, right? This is definitely a red card. Even a yellow card would have seen Jelle Van Damme suspended for the first game of the conference finals.

PKs — Howard stone-walls Larentowicz to send Colorado through — Most of the MLS community lambasted the Rapids for paying Howard what they did, but he came through in the clutch.

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Man of the match: Tim Howard

Goalscorers: Gashi (36′)