Much like last weekend, the beginning of the game started out pretty slow. I found myself talking about Pablo Mastroeni’s track suit and Tim Howard’s new blue keeper uniform instead of having anything of substance to say about the game.
A Houston defender passed it straight to Sébastien Le Toux. He sent it over to Dillon Powers near the middle, who chipped it over the back line to a perfectly timed run by Dominique Badji. Badji gets his 5th goal of the season by putting it to the far post on a tough angle. Rapids went up 1-0 in the 12th minute!
The Rapids kept pushing and had great ball control. Houston brought it hard, too, but just couldn’t put anything together. This is a team who has scored seven goals in their last four games, though, so the Rapids couldn’t just sit back and try to hang on to the one goal lead.
Again, more back and forth, and while it seemed that the Rapids held on to the ball, the Dynamo actually had 58% possession in the first half. It was looking like the Colorado side was going into halftime on top, but then in the 45th minute, a miscommunication between Jared Watts and Axel Sjöberg left Mauro Manotas open just right of the penalty spot. Sheanon Williams passed it in from out wide, and Manotas easily kicked it past Tim Howard to tie it up right before halftime. Badji got one more nice shot on goal in stoppage time, but Dynamo Goalkeeper Joe Willis got a foot on it and it went wide.
Two minutes into the second half, the defense got caught off-guard and Houston had a wide open run on the right side. The ball got to the middle and Michael Azira (thankfully) cleared it away. Houston came out looking to get an early goal.
But, as the Rapids learned in the first half, all it takes is a couple nice passes. Axel won an aerial ball, which went right to Azira. Azira short passed it to Le Toux. Le Toux one-timed it to Powers, who touched the ball around a defender and passed it through to Badji, who had another perfectly timed run. He went one-on-one with Willis, and got himself a brace in the 54th minute. This Le Toux/Powers/Badji trio is so hot right now!
This game meant a lot for Houston. They needed a win to have any chance at a playoff run, so they were not going to go down without a fight. And (according to the stats) they dominated possession in the second half. Maybe the humidity seemed to start taking a toll on the Rapids? Things were just kind of slow going for the Rapids.
First sub for the Rapids came at the 73rd minute, Caleb Calvert in for Le Toux.
In the 79th minute, Azira muscled Collen Warner off the ball, played the ball one time over to Gashi. He settled the ball with one touch, took a couple steps to just outside the 18 and blasted it past Willis far post. 3-1 Rapids, and Azira picked up his first MLS assist.
It didn’t take long for Houston to respond. They got a set piece just outside the 18 yard box in the 81st minute, and a deflection (possibly by Azira?) dribbled it into the goal. It was dumb.
Shortly after, the Rapids earned a free kick. Sam Cronin stood around on the ball and got a warning from the ref. He continued to stand around on the ball and GOT A YELLOW CARD. That means Cronin is out for the next game on yellow card accumulation.
Second sub—Dennis Castillo in, Gashi out.
There were four minutes of stoppage time. Azira managed to get a yellow card.
Last sub—Joseph Greenspan in, Badji out. Good call since Badji is sitting on yellow card accumulation. The Rapids didn’t even have to time waste, as Greenspan earned a free kick. Jared Watts boots it into the corner and the whistle blows!
54 POINTS - CLUB RECORD! 2ND SEED IN THE WEST! FIRST ROUND BYE IN THE PLAYOFFS!