MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)

09/04/2014 4:27 PM

09/04/2014 4:35 PM

Colorado (8-12-6) at Los Angeles (13-5-7), 10:30 p.m.

Carson, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Rapids and Los Angeles Galaxy are heading in opposite directions in the Western Conference table.

Los Angeles has won four straight league contests to advance to second place in the West while Colorado's six straight defeats have dropped the club to seventh place and out of the playoff picture.

The two clubs met at Dick's Sporting Goods park on Aug. 20 and will do battle once again when they square off at the StubHub Center on Friday.

Los Angeles appeared to be in some trouble a fortnight ago as the Rapids took a two-goal lead into the halftime interval, but the Galaxy managed to net three unanswered goals in the second half to collect all three points.

The win helped galvanize the Galaxy, who followed the result with successive defeats of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, D.C. United and Chivas USA.

Landon Donovan recorded two assists in the defeat of Chivas, both of which went to Gyasi Zardes. The young striker is enjoying a sublime season, netting 12 goals in league play from just 22 shots on target. Half of his goals have been game-winners, illustrating his penchant for contributing in key situations.

"He obviously played really well," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of Zardes. "The first goal was a big goal in this game. Chivas USA played very well in the first half. They were tough to break down. Kennedy was difficult to beat. To get that goal at the end of the half was a big advantage, not only on the scoreboard but psychologically as well."

The result at Dick's Sporting Goods Park a fortnight ago has had the inverse effect on Colorado, though. The Rapids followed the contest against L.A. with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.

"The attitude was right for playing in such a difficult place against a team in good form. The silver lining is what I have been living on the last couple of matches," said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. "We are seeing steady improvements from such a young team, but at the moment we are making it difficult for ourselves to stay afloat in the playoff race."

Another silver lining in the defeat was Colorado's rather stout defensive performance. The Rapids entered the match having conceded 11 goals in the previous three matches, so it is a step in the right direction to leak just one against a Sounders team that has netted 48 goals this term, a total that ties them with the Galaxy for the MLS-lead. But Colorado has still given up 16 goals over its six-game losing skid.

"I think we are much more solid defensively as a team," Mastroeni said. "The guys had some great counterattacks that came from a good defensive positioning. More than anything everyone was just in more in tune to little moments during the run of play.

"To get beat on a set piece is really disheartening. Set pieces are opportunities where you can get your defense set up and never should be beaten so easily on a set piece. Experience hurts, but you have got to get dragged through it."

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