From the LA Galaxy perspective, they had an opportunity to narrow the gap on the Rapids to two points and further cement their position in the top four to secure a home playoff game.
But neither aspiration came to fruition, with the Rapids and LA instead battling to a 1-1 draw that left both heads coaches wishing for more. On a sweltering afternoon, Michael Barrios and Samuel Grandsir traded second-half goals that left them splitting the Week 24 spoils.
The what-could-have-been feeling surfaced for Colorado manager Robin Fraser, whose team remains eight games unbeaten. Even if they had won, Seattle’s 1-0 victory over Minnesota United FC shortly after the final whistle blew would have kept them in second place with a game in hand.
“It feels like a missed opportunity to reward ourselves because I think that, in a back-and-forth game, we probably did enough to win up to the point where they scored,” Fraser said, alluding to Grandsir’s 80th-minute equalizer. “And then after that it became a dogfight again. But it's disappointing because you want to win your games at home for sure. It's disappointing because we had a lead late at home. But this is football, sometimes it goes this way.”
In some ways, the result was a step forward for LA. They dropped a 2-1 home match against these same Rapids in mid-August, and the bounceback came as star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez featured in the starting lineup for his first appearance since a calf injury kept him sidelined for 12 straight matches.
But they’ve also struggled against the West’s top tier, losing twice against Seattle and once against Sporting Kansas City this season. That’s compounded by their 0-1-1 record against Colorado and four-game winless streak, last winning in mid-August against Minnesota.
With 11 regular-season games remaining as they chase an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return, LA are still looking for a statement result against the West’s top tier. And with 17 newcomers this year, Vanney expects it’ll take time.
“There's many, many details in the game that I think we have to get sharper to be able to compete with the top teams right now,” Vanney said. “We've done a good job, like this game, of getting a result out of it and, again, a difficult place to play. But to win these games in a playoff environment or something, the details for us have to tighten up for sure. We've got to get more in sync as a group.”
There are still positives, though. And Fraser was quick to point out how his team has depth and quality in multiple spots.
“The thing that I think gets lost a little bit with us is that we have a lot of really good players,” Fraser said, referencing substitute Andre Shinyashiki’s pinpoint cross on Barrios’ 66th-minute opener. “And when we make changes, when we're bringing in fresh, good players replacing tired, good players – as a result, we've been able to affect games with the guys who have been coming in off the bench. It doesn't make me look super smart, they're just good players.”
As for the Galaxy, they’re staving off Minnesota and Portland for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference standings. It’s a situation where Vanney’s taking the good with the bad, especially as Portland emerge from three straight road wins.
“It's a good point. It's also a good point in the standings,” Vanney said. “It puts us four away from the team behind us and it keeps us still in touch with Colorado in the standings. Today wasn't the day we made up ground, but we certainly didn't lose any and we kept a good gap with Portland at least for the time being.”