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Rapids Rookie Extends Galaxy's Scoreless Streak

Goalkeeper Coundoul leads Colorado, 1-0, as L.A. reaches 390 minutes without a goal.

May 21, 2006|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Futility at its finest. That was what was on display at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night. That and some exceptional goalkeeping.

The Galaxy came into its Major League Soccer game against the Colorado Rapids with a scoreless streak of exactly five hours.

The injury-plagued Rapids came in with a third-string goalkeeper -- Senegalese-born Bouna Coundoul -- making his first MLS start.

The outcome? Coundoul, playing the game of his life, made five spectacular saves, including a couple in the dying minutes, and Colorado won, 1-0.

It was the Galaxy's fourth shutout loss in a row, and during it Coach Steve Sampson's struggling team broke the Galaxy record for scoreless minutes. That mark, which was 319 minutes, now stands at 390 and counting.

Los Angeles fans might have been disappointed -- not to say angry -- but soccer fans as a whole could have only applauded Coundoul's performance.

"It's Bouna time," said Coach Fernando Clavijo, echoing a phrase the 24-year-old goalkeeper had coined a week earlier when he made his pro debut against the Columbus Crew, coming on in the 10th minute after backup Matt Jordan was injured.

Joe Cannon, the Rapids' No. 1 goalkeeper also is out because of an injury.

"He's a young goalkeeper, inexperienced, but an outstanding athlete and he showed it today," Clavijo said. "We have a lot of confidence in him. We knew he was going to do a good job. We didn't know it was going to be a great job."

In all, Coundoul faced 17 shots as the home team threw everything forward in an effort to end the scoreless streak that has undermined player morale and put Sampson's job in increasing jeopardy.

Colorado took seven shots and scored when Jacob Peterson beat goalkeeper Steve Cronin in the 14th minute. It was all the Rapids needed.

Coundoul, who came to the U.S. from the Senegalese capital of Dakar at age 14 and played high school and college soccer in New York, was all over the place, commanding his penalty area with the authority of a veteran.

In fact, he is a developmental player, earning minimum salary -- and now, maximum praise.

"Last week he came in and he was a little bit nervous in the first game of his career," defender Hunter Freeman said. "He got that under his belt and tonight I thought he was phenomenal.

"Heck, if he doesn't come up with some huge saves at the end of the game it's 1-1 and who knows what happens after that. Luckily, we weathered the storm and a lot of that goes to him."

Fellow defender Mike Petke was equally effusive.

"Somebody's absence is another person's opportunity," Petke said. "Bouna's proved it the last two games. We all know how good he is. It's good to know that we have someone like him for a situation like this."

Said Coundoul: "I'm not going to brag, but I always work hard. My coaches make me really, really work hard in practice and they believed that I was ready. So I just came and did what I'm capable of doing. The team helped me a lot tonight."

The Galaxy has suffered shutout losses in five of its last six games and is 0-4-1 at home despite being the league's defending champion.

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