Match Preview: Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo
The Colorado Rapids have not won a game in the last six attempts and sit one place off the bottom of the Western Conference standings but, like the Colorado weather, that can all change in an instant, writes Richard Fleming.
Houston Dynamo are the visitors on Wednesday night. They will arrive in Commerce City having not won their first six games of 2020 yet have since won the last three. These include home and away success over Sporting Kansas City, and a 3-0 win over Minnesota United at BBVA Stadium.
The Rapids, on the other hand, have gone 0-3-3 since play resumed in early July. They are unbeaten in two, having tied both Sporting KC at home and San Jose Earthquakes away.
But, as the Dynamo have shown, all it takes is one win to break the run. And should that win arrive on Wednesday for the Rapids, then there is a good chance they will be back above the playoff line, and with a game in hand on many of the teams around them.
The Rapids lie 11th, three places and two points behind Real Salt Lake, who currently occupy the eighth and final playoff place in the Western Conference. Robin Fraser’s side head to RSL on Saturday.
What we have seen in the last two Rapids games is a side which does well to deny others yet struggles to create too much themselves. They move the ball well, look tidy in possession, but have not been ruthless enough with the limited opportunities they do have.
Talking ahead of the Dynamo game, midfielder Kellyn Acosta admitted: "Before we were a team that scored a lot of goals. Now we haven't been as dangerous in front of goal, and I think once we have our opportunities we need to capitalize, whether it be a half chance, we need to put the ball in the back of the net."
Kei Kamara’s introduction on Saturday altered the dynamic, and made them a greater threat at set pieces, but Younes Namli seemed to be monitored well by the Quakes, something Houston will have taken note of. He was subbed out with 15 minutes to go and replaced by Braian Galvan.
Defensively, the foursome of Rosenberry, Abubakar, Wilson, and Vines are getting a run of games together. Collen Warner, making a second start for his hometown team, showed veteran discipline in the center of the park and just kept it very simple.
You know what you are going to get with Diego Rubio, and on Saturday he was again full of energy and passion, while also being a little crafty at times. Andre Shinyashiki has started to show a return to the form which saw him named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2019.
Cole Bassett showed growing maturity in taking set-piece responsibilities at San Jose, in the absence of midfield general Jack Price. Acosta has been delivering consistently, going about his business at both ends of the field.
In other words, the pieces are coming together. Add to that the trio of Price, Nicolas Benezet and Nicolas Mezquida, none of whom played at the weekend, and expect the corner to be turned very soon.
Houston, though, arrive with threats. They have scored 10 goals in their last three games. They have pace in the form of Alberth Elis. They have guile in Darwin Quinero and Memo Rodriguez, and they have a solid defensive unit which includes Maynor Figueroa, Adam Lundkvist and Zarek Valentin.
Quintero and Elis lead the team’s scoring charts with four apiece. The former also has six assists. This was a pairing which overwhelmed Sporting KC 5-2 on the road. Those that maybe saw this as a one-off have since been forced to re-think, as the Dynamo - under first-year head coach Tab Ramos - had a shutout win over the Loons before coming from behind to defeat SKC for a second time.
The Dynamo are on a roll after a difficult run, something that will not be lost on fans of a burgundy persuasion.
Coverage of the Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo begins at 6.30pm on Wednesday, on Altitude and AltitudeNOW.