The Rapids began a critical weekend homestand with a bang in a big win both offensively and in the Western Conference standings. The lineup changes, due in large part to 7 matches in the last 21 days, paid off in the form of more attacking speed in the front half of the field and stout work from the back four against the road-challenged Houston Dynamo.
Forward Kevin Doyle settled things in Colorado’s favor early after what would be typical excellent buildup play on the night. Catalyst Dominique Badji ran down through balls all evening but served up Dillon Serna in this case. Serna cut back a beauty for Doyle in front of goal and tucked it coolly inside near post.
Doyle explained it was more about the movement between he and Badji and the midfielders working things out before the plays started. “Mo (Saeid) played in a center midfield deeper role so it starts there-just a kick and a flick on-just general play Mo’s kind of attracting some of them and that just opens up space for me,” Doyle told The Voice of C38 postgame.
“We’re down as a 4-4-2 but it’s more of a 4-4-1-1 where I’m the deeper (forward) just trying to get us two into little inbetween spaces between center-halfs and midfielders.”
Much of the first half saw Colorado use their movement as passing opened up various runs into space and some half-chances on Houston’s goal. However, as that first half ran out there was sinking blow dealt in the very last seconds of stoppage time by crowd-villain Erick Torres at the last whistle.
“We were very good the first 35 minutes of the first half,” noted Doyle commenting on the first half. “It was disheartening, you know, 49th minute. I’ve never seen 4 minutes of added time in a first half before.”
Things could have been worse at that point as Houston had two shots on goal that normally would have probably netted them at least a second goal in the first 45 minutes. However, the Rapids goal is manned by Tim Howard who produced two lightning-reaction saves on the goal-line to keep the Dynamo frustrated and off the scoreboard.
“Last 10 minutes we just sat off them a bit and it went a bit haywire for us, but other than that for the rest of the game it was a good gameplan. We came back, reset, and go again. We’re always strong here second half.”
“We let their center-halfs have a bit of possession but once they got into our side of the pitch we won it back pretty easy and looked dangerous,” said Kevin, who even after that down moment to end the half admitted he still felt comfortable in Colorado’s ability to take the game over again.
The second half showed more of the Badji, Doyle, and the moved-up Hairston running Houston ragged with great vision and movement off the ball in order to create very clear-cut finishing chances. Hairston ran to the far post knowing Badji was looking to drive a ball across goal in the 48th minute and ended up tapping in the game-winner.
Hairston then sealed the victory when Badji kept a ball alive to Doyle, who carried into the box drawing multiple defenders, laying off to Marlon who doesn’t miss often from the edge of the 6-yd box.
“We’re usually hanging on 2-1 and fighting for that so it’s nice to be 3-1 with 5-10 minutes to go. They had their half chances tonight but Tim (Howard) made some great saves,” said a relieved Doyle.