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#HOUvCOL: Breakdown of Key Plays

The Rapids jumped out to an early lead, but ended up having to settle for a point in Houston on Saturday.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids managed to jump out to a 2-0 lead before the half on Saturday night against the Houston Dynamo, but a five-minute-long mental breakdown resulted in a 2-2 tie at the final whistle.

While it is never bad to get a point on the road, the Rapids will feel like they should have more. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the goals.

Rapids take the lead early (7’)

Diego Rubio didn’t take too much time to continue his hot streak, scoring his 7th goal in the last 10 games. It all starts with a long ball that Sam Nicholson does well to meet with his head. Whether this was a set tactic and he knew that Rubio would be making the run or he was just heading the ball into space is unknown, but it is a good ball nonetheless.

Next, Kei Kamara makes a key run. Right as the ball is being headed, Kamara makes a run to the corner to get on any ball that gets flicked on. More importantly, however, he brings the Houston centerback with him. Since Maynor Figueroa is forced to track Kamara, the space is open.

Then, Figueroa can’t get back over in time to stop Rubio from latching onto the ball and getting into the box. Finally, Rubio makes a good finish. The ball isn’t as close to the far post as it could be, but Rubio puts it at the ideal height where Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis isn’t going to stop it with his legs, but also low enough to keep it under the goalie’s arms. Good finish. Not a great one, but good enough.

Rubio gets his second (39’)

This is just a terrible play by Figueroa. Once he gets the ball, he looks down, takes his time, and plays a soft ball over the middle. If you are going to do any of the three of those things, you need to make sure not to do the other two. By looking down, Rubio can start moving toward the other centerback without him noticing. By taking his time, Rubio is able to get into a position to take to the ball when it is played. By playing the ball softly, Rubio beats the other centerback to the ball.

After that, Rubio takes the ball into the box, pulls a hesitation move, goes around the goalie, and slides the ball into the net for his second. This one is a better finish than the first and it’s nice to see Rubio bring his tally to 8 goals in 10 games.

The lead is cut in half (74’)

While this is a good run, good ball, and good finish, Sam Vines is caught a little out of position. Once the ball gets a little up the field, Mauro Manotas tries to make a run to get in behind the centerbacks. Both get caught sleeping, so Manotas gets a step on them. That step would have taken him offside if Vines was not sitting just a little bit below them on the back side.

As a result, Manotas is held onside and he goes on to score the goal on the breakaway. Whether you put that more on Vines for holding him on or on the centerbacks for letting Manotas get a step is up to you.

Houston ties it up (79’)

This goal is just too easy for the Dynamo. It starts with the Houston player have all kinds of space because nobody is closing him down. This allows him to pick his pass in behind Keegan Rosenberry.

I would have liked Rosenberry to put some more pressure on the ball, but he is ultimately a little unlucky to let the ball go through his legs.

Finally, Jack Price gets caught ball watching. He is clearly the one marking Manotas on his way into the box, but Price loses track of him. That allows Manotas to get onto the ball uncontested and slot it home to give Houston a point. A couple of mental lapses just a few minutes apart were all it took for the Rapids see three points turn into one.

Other Thought

Vines is indeed better than Serna

Last time the Rapids played Houston, Dillon Serna was all the talk at left back. He was doing well going forward, and at least holding his own on the defensive side of things. Well, Alberth Elis came around and showed us the kind of liability that Serna could be back there, which ended up being the beginning of the end of the Serna at left back experiment.

This time around, Sam Vines got to face off against Elis. Sure, Elis got a few minor wins where he got crosses off or got a half step on Vines, but he kept Elis much more under control than Serna was able to do. I’m not going to pretend like Vines had a team of the week performance but he did a decent job of holding his own against a very talented winger. Elis is no slouch, so Vines should feel pretty good about the work that he did.

A draw was deserved

Yes, the Rapids won’t feel very good about the draw and they will likely feel like they deserved to get three points after being up two goals with 20 minutes to play. On the flip side, however, the draw was probably fair in the scope of the whole game. Houston had a lot of possession, a lot of shots, and a decent amount of chances so you knew they deserved to grab a goal or two.

In the long run, the Rapids really do need to get a better defense. They have gotten better since the start of the season, but they still have a long way to go if they want to be a good team in 2020.

The Rapids have scored the third-highest amount of goals in the Western Conference at 43, trailing only LAFC and Minnesota. On the flip side, they have allowed the most goals in the Western Conference at 52, seven more than any other team. I know the Rapids have claimed we should be getting some DP offensive signings this offseason, but they clearly need more help on the defense. Here’s to hoping Kortne Ford can provide some of that next season.

From The South Stands also hits on the need for better defense in his Rapid Fire article for the week which you can find here.

Have any other thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section below!