Kamani Hill darts into the offensive zone against the Houston Dynamo at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. - Justin Edmonds
Granted, this wasn’t the usual starting XI for the Houston Dynamo, but the Colorado Rapids on Saturday delivered one of their sharpest 2012 efforts in the season-closer.
All components of the game - for a change - were solid. The offense looked dangerous and peppered Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric with shots. The midfield was creative and fluid in getting balls to the front men. And the defense was lock down. Again, it must be emphasized that Houston - who has a postseason game to look forward to - was sitting many of its stars.
Still, it was a satisfying ending to this otherwise dismal campaign, coming on the heels of another 2-0 win last week against Chivas. Could the Rapids have finally found their stride - albeit a couple months too late?
Quite possibly. Especially satisfying to see were high-octane performance of youngsters Kamani Hill, Andre Akpan and Tony Cascio up top, as well as the superb play of defender Chris Klute, making his Major League Soccer debut.
Here's the ratings:
0 - Awful, horrible, why is he even on the field?
1-3 - Poor. Why is he starting?
4-6 - Decent. Played a reasonable game, but could have done much more.
7-9 - Great game! Did nearly everything right with few mistakes.
10 - Perfect game.
Steward Ceus - 7
This game makes two - count ‘em two - clean sheets for the Ceus, minding the net in place of the injured Matt Pickens. Ceus was only threatened a couple times, but he was solid in swatting away high balls and diving to the floor when necessary. Chris Klute and Hunter Freeman came to Ceus's rescue on a couple balls that got past him.
Marvell Wynne - 6.5
Wynne played one of his smoothest, smartest games of the year. He did the hard work to help in the corners on the few times Houston got that far, and he powerfully headed away a corner kick or two to thwart Dynamo set pieces.
Drew Moor - 7
Played every minute of another full season for the Rapids. That says it all for the captain, who again provided both the physical play and tactical awareness to render Houston's offense punchless.
Hunter Freeman - 7.5
Freeman did the defensive dirty work and, especially in the first half, supplied a few dangerous crosses into the box. He cleared a ball off the line that would have been a sure Houston goal in the second half.
Chris Klute - 7
Very solid debut for the former Atlanta Silverback. He showed great closedown speed when he needed to catch a striker and had superb touch and vision playing balls into the offensive zone. In the 37th minute he knocked a goal-ward ball back into the grasp of Ceus. Most winningly, he knocked a perfect far-post cross to Rivero that ended up producing the Rapids' second goal.
A quiet night for the big man in the defensive midfield, but that could be because he simply works so efficiently that he's hardly noticed. Hendry isn't one to cover a lot of ground, but when he touches the ball he's an accurate and smart passer.
Jamie Castrillon - 7
Castrillon was all over the field, working in combo with Hill and Larentowicz as well as Cummings and Rivero. He knocked on the door several times, but unluckily just did not have the extra sliver of space to produce a goal.
Martin Rivero - 7
Unlike the last cold-weather game at Dick's, Rivero was in full command of this game. His passes were superbly weighted, his free kicks flew into dangerous areas and his wicked smash off a Klute cross forced Deric to spill right onto the head of Akpan.
Jeff Larentowicz - 6.5
Larentowicz delivered his usual workman-like, mistake-free game and had a couple moments of brilliance. He dispossessed a Houston midfielder in the first half and created a dangerous opportunity, and he one-timed a corner-kick volley that almost found net.
Kamani Hill - 7.5
Hill's early goal was a piece of striker audacity that the Rapids have seen too little of this season. He took a pass from Castrillon and darted into the heart of Houston's defense before cracking a 22-yarder that deflected off a Dynamo defender and found nylon. Hill gave Houston headaches all night with his quick pace and guile-filled touches.
Omar Cummings - 6.5
Cummings showed the pace we're accustomed to seeing and took a couple good cracks on net. It's encouraging that he appears back to full health and has the knack for goal again - something Colorado deeply missed most of this season.
Tony Cascio in for Hill (65) - 6.5
Cascio again showed the speed and derring-do that has been his rookie trademark. Let's hope he continues to develop and pours in many more goals in Season No. 2 with the Rapids.
Andre Akpan in for Cummings (71) - 7
Akpan did what a forward is supposed to do - got in position to score and headed in the ball that Deric couldn't control late in the game.
Davy Armstrong in for Larentowicz (86) - NA
The young product of the Rapids Academy made his debut.