All the Galaxy needed was a tie against the Rapids to move ahead of FC Dallas on the first tiebreaker (total wins), but it lost on a late penalty kick after Rapids rookie Andre Shinyashiki went down in the penalty area and referee Fotis Bazakos controversially determined he had been tripped.
The Galaxy needed 10 saves from goalkeeper David Bingham to keep the game close, and it thought it should have had a penalty kick of its own in stoppage time when Galaxy defender Rolf Feltscher was kicked in the head in the goalmouth but no foul was called on Colorado's Danny Wilson.
“I’m very surprised -- It’s very clear that it wasn’t a penalty for them," said Barros Schelotto of deciding penalty kick.
The Galaxy coach also said it was "very clear" that the Galaxy should have been awarded a penalty, though Bingham was more concerned about the defensive issues that have plagued the Galaxy in recent months. It has now conceded 25 goals in its last 10 games.
“We didn't play well enough defensively," he said. "I think they had 14 or 15 shots on target tonight, so when you give up that many shots on target, something is bound to go wrong. We definitely have to limit our opponents chances, and go back home and get ready for this weekend.”
The Galaxy, which should get midfielders Jonathan Dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget back from national team duty, faces Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at home.
The Galaxy's remaining schedule is the easiest of the seven teams still bunched within four points of each other after Minnesota United fell at Houston, 2-0, giving LAFC the Western Conference title with five games to spare.
Only one of the Galaxy's five remaining games is against a team above the playoff.
FC Dallas, one point ahead in seventh place, plays only two teams in the playoff zone, but the other teams the Galaxy is trying to catch all play three or more teams in the top seven in their conference. (Portland is the only team with a game in hand.)
Every team Seattle and San Jose will face is in the playoff zone, though the Quakes' schedule is considerably worse. It begins with games against the top three teams in the Eastern Conference, the first two on the road.
Western Conference race for 2-7:
2. Real Salt Lake (46 points, 29 games, record: 14-11-4, GD: +6)
Schedule: Sept. 15 at Minn. United Sept. 21 at New England Sept. 25 LA Galaxy Sept. 29 Houston Oct. 6 at Vancouver.
3. Seattle Sounders (46 points, 29 games, record: 13-9-7, GD: +1)
Schedule: Sept. 15 NY Red Bulls Sept. 18 FC Dallas Sept. 22 at D.C. United Sept. 29 at San Jose Oct. 6 Minn. United.
4. Minnesota United (45 points, 29 games, record: 13-10-6 GD: +7)
Schedule: Sept. 15 Real Salt Lake Sept. 22 at Portland Sept. 25 Sporting KC Sept. 29 LAFC Oct. 6 at Seattle.
5. San Jose Earthquakes (44 points, 29 games, record: 13-11-5, GD: +4)
Schedule: Sept. 14 at NYCFC Sept. 21 at Atlanta United Sept. 25 Philadelphia Sept. 29 Seattle Oct. 6 at Portland.
6. Portland Timbers (43 points, 28 games, record: 13-11-4, GD: +4)
Schedule: Sept. 15 D.C. United Sept. 18 NY Red Bulls Sept. 22 Minn. United Sept. 25 New England Sept. 29 at Sporting KC Oct. 6 San Jose.
7. FC Dallas (43 points, 29 games, record: 12-10-7, GD: +9)
Schedule: Sept. 14 at Chicago Sept. 18 at Seattle Sept. 22 NYCFC Sept. 29 at Colorado Oct. 6 Sporting KC.
8. LA Galaxy (42 points, 29 games, record: 13-13-13 GD: -3)
Schedule: Sept. 15 Sporting KC Sept. 21 Montreal Sept. 25 at Real Salt Lake Sept. 29 Vancouver Oct. 6 at Houston.