Work in Sports
DENVER (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Galaxy advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Repids.
The win completes an Los Angeles sweep of the best-of-three playoff series. The Galaxy must await the conclusion of Wednesday's Game Three between the Dallas Burn and the Chicago Fire before discovering who their opponents will be.
Galaxy midfielder Danny Pena proved to be the deciding factor, scoring the game-winning goal in a match that was defined by defensive tenacity.
The Rapids, struggling to find offense in the middle of a record-breaking scoring drought, had an excellent opportunity early in the game when Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was called for a rare back-pass foul.
Awarded an indirect free kick from inside the penalty area, Colorado failed to capitalize when the ensuing shot was blocked and cleared by a Carlos Hermosillo header.
Rapids defender Marcelo Balboa also came up big in the first half, saving an Ezra Hendrickson goal with a spectacular leaping header.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 74th minute when Cienfuegos found Pena open on the left flank. Pena, who had been assigned the task of marking Rapids midfielder Anders Limpar, ran into open space near the sideline. Cienfuegos passed the ball to the streaking midfielder, who chipped it over goalkeeper Ian Feuer's head for his first goal of the playoffs. The goal proved to be the difference, giving Pena his first career game-winning goal in the postseason.
Second-half substitutes Zak Ibsen and Joe Franchino combined in the 84th minute to give the Galaxy the insurance goal. Ibsen carried the ball to the Colorado goal line before crossing the ball through the penalty area. Feuer, faced with a charging Los Angeles offense, was forced to punch the ball away in desperation. Feuer's attempted clear landed at the feet of Franchino, who slammed the rebound into the back of the net for his first career postseason tally.
The Rapids set a new MLS record in the game, extending the club's scoreless drought to 679 consecutive minutes.