Following a lengthy spell on the sideline while recovering from injury, Dillon Serna scored his first MLS goal for the Rapids in 13 months on Wednesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, but it wasn’t enough as the hosts fell to the LA Galaxy, 3-1.
Despite the loss, it was the Rapids who came flying out of the gate. Just over a minute in, Joshua Gatt found himself through on goal but pushed his low shot just wide. Minutes later, it was Dominique Badji who then threatened to give the hosts the lead, but the dynamic 24-year-old Senegalese forward couldn’t find the back of the net either, sending his effort over the frame from just inside the 18-yard-box.
“In the early stages of the game we created some opportunities and if you don’t finish those, this game has a cruel way of making you regret those opportunities,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame. “It looked like we weren’t on the front foot defensively and what looked really successful for us in the early stages was threatening their backline.”
Despite the Rapids’ early pressure, it was the Galaxy who soon struck first as Jack McBean latched on to a deflected clearance and did well to bend his 20-yard effort in off the post.
The Rapids looked as though they may equalize in the 16th-minute when a square pass from winger Marlon Hairston found Serna, who turned skillfully and fired an effort from outside the box that was pushed over the bar acrobatically by Galaxy goalkeeper, Clement Diop.
After Kortne Ford missed just wide off a 27th-minute corner kick, it was Gatt who then fired over the bar following a smart pass across the face of goal from Rapids center-back Axel Sjoberg.
The Rapids found a deserved equalizer in the 37th-minute when a darting run across the left wing from Gatt led to Serna – who would go on to earn HealthONE Man of the Match honors – rifling home a left footed shot past a helpless Diop and in to the back of the net.
“Josh [Gatt] was causing a lot of problems in the first half on the left side and I told him that once he beat one or two guys, the back post was wide open. He was able to find me on one and I put it away,” Serna said of the goal.
Eighteen minutes into the second half, the Galaxy would again take the lead after midfielder Joao Pedro played a pass across the face of goal to find McBean whose clever backheel snuck past Rapids keeper Tim Howard.
The home side came close to a second equalizer when Sjöberg nearly latched on to a point-blank header, and then again in the 68th-minute when Gatt sprung in to the Galaxy box. Unfortunately for Rapids fans, his pass across the face of goal to Caleb Calvert was deflected and on the ensuing counter attack Bradford Jamieson was brought down in the box by defender Kortne Ford. Romain Alessandrini then stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty to seal the visitors’ 3-1 victory.
“I don’t think we won enough second balls and really [made some] some tired decisions. They kept threatening over our backline and setting up camp right around midfield quite a bit. For us, it has to be energy, it has to be attitude and mentality,” Mastroeni said about his team’s play over the final 30 minutes.
The loss ends a streak of four consecutive victories for the Rapids across all competitions.
Pablo Mastroeni’s men (5-9-1; 16 points) now set their sights on Saturday’s road clash with Atlanta United FC. Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. MT (Altitude) at Bobby Dodd Stadium, on campus at Georgia Tech University.