Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids

The Houston Dynamo are home for a second consecutive game, riding a hot hand as the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids look to reverse a recent slide when the teams meet Wednesday at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo haven’t lost in six games, coming off a dominating 4-1 home win against D.C. United at the weekend. The Rapids ended their three-game losing streak last weekend, coming away with a 1-1 draw with Chicago at home.

REFEREE: Terry Vaughn. SAR (bench): Sean Hurd; JAR (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Mark Declouet MLS Career: 141 games; FC/gm: 28.6; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 46; pens: 45

INJURY REPORT

HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); MF Danny Cruz (R knee hyperextension); DOUBTFUL: DF Jermaine Taylor (R foot sprain); PROBABLE: FW Brian Ching (L rib separation) ...

COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); DF Eddie Ababio (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain); FW Caleb Folan (R quadriceps strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS: SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Conor Casey 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Dynamo 7 wins, 22 goals ... Rapids 4 wins, 17 goals ... Ties 3 AT HOUSTON (6 meetings): Dynamo 4 wins, 15 goals ... Rapids 0 wins, 9 goals ... Ties 2 RETURN MATCH: 7/3: Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo, 7 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

LAST YEAR (MLS): 6/26: HOU 2, COL 2 (Cruz 17; Ngwenya 79 – Casey 45; own goal 71) 8/28: COL 3, HOU 0 (Smith 2; Cummings 16; Casey 23) 

  • Houston are undefeated all-time at Robertson Stadium vs. Colorado. Since a 5-2 victory there in the club’s inaugural game, the Dynamo have won five games (with two draws) in league and MLS Cup play.
  • The Dynamo haven’t won on three of their last four trips to Colorado. The Rapids have won three (with one draw) since May 5, 2007, a 3-1 Houston victory in the first meeting between the teams at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. COL: P22 W11 L5 D6 ... Gary Smith v HOU: P5 W2 L2 D1 

HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo returned home and won for a third time in four games, rolling to a 4-1 victory against D.C. United on Friday evening at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo have 12 points from 7 games on the season, sitting in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Dynamo took the lead after barely four minutes. Geoff Cameron dispossessed D.C. midfielder Clyde Simms and slotted a nice through ball for Will Bruin, and the rookie calmly finished near-post past a closing Bill Hamid.
  • United pulled even in the 39th minute from a free kick. Fred cleared out space in the Dynamo wall and Marc Burch sent a low, powerful blast from 25 yards out that beat 'keeper Tally Hall to the near corner.
  • The tie, though, lasted for just two minutes. After gaining possession in midfield, Cameron sent a through ball to Brad Davis out on the left flank and Davis curled in a cross from the end line. Bruin beat fellow rookie Perry Kitchen to blast a header home for his second.
  • The Dynamo used their set piece advantage in the 57th minute, when Bruin again rose above a helpless Kitchen to head home his final goal of the evening, this time off a Davis free kick from the left flank.
  • Weaver capped the scoring in the 62nd minute. A long throw in from Hunter Freeman found Weaver all alone behind the United back line. With acres of space in front of him, Weaver carried into the box and fired a shot into the roof of the net.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Colin Clark came into the midfield for Danny Cruz.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-1-3-2): Tally Hall - Hunter Freeman, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Lovel Palmer - Colin Clark (Je-Vaughn Watson 72), Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis - Cam Weaver (Koke 85), Will Bruin (Brian Ching 81)

TEAM NEWS

  • Will Bruin became the fourth rookie in MLS history to record a hat trick, and the second in as many seasons, after New England’s Zack Schilawski performed the feat last year. Brian Maisonneuve (1996) and Pat Noonan (2003) were the others.
  • “It’s nice to see that guys are enjoying other people’s success,” Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. “When Will was scoring everybody was very happy for him. I think it just shows that the guys are happy for him to be scoring goals because it helps the team. But I think they’re personally pulling for him as well as a person because he’s worked hard and he’s fit in pretty well.”
  • Bruin is also the second-youngest player in MLS history to score a hat trick, just 17 days older than Stern John was when he netted three in 1998 for the Columbus Crew. It was only the fifth hat trick in Dynamo club history.
  • Brad Davis took over the MLS assist lead with six, after setting up two goals in Houston’s 4-1 win against D.C. United. It was Davis’s 10th career multiple-assist game; he had three in the Dynamo’s 3-1 win vs. Vancouver on April 10.
  • “There is a lot of talk with our set pieces, and they are still dangerous,” Kinnear said. “Delivery is the most important thing. I think you need that attitude and aggression.”
  • Geoff Cameron also contributed two assists – his first two since Oct. 25, 2009, then missing much of the 2010 season through injury.
  • Cam Weaver scored his third goal of the season, his first since April 10 vs. Vancouver. His MLS career-high is four, set in 2009 when he played for both Houston and the San Jose Earthquakes.
  • Brian Ching was able to come on for the final nine minutes, his first action since April 2 after suffering a rib injury in a collision.
  • Koke made his MLS and Dynamo debut, coming on for the final five minutes, and the Dynamo’s other recent international signing – Jamaican international Je-Vaughn Watson – came on in the 72nd minute.
  • “It’s nice that you can make subs when the score was the way it was,” Kinnear said. “Those guys have been working hard and it’s nice to see [Koke] step in and do well. ... It’s nice that you can bring in two guys who are very good and it was nice to see them hook up a few times. That’s something you will probably see in the future.”

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids put a skid on their losing streak at three games, coming back for a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have 10 points from 7 games, in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Western Conference. 

LAST MATCH

  • The teams traded goals on either side of halftime. Just before the break, Gaston Puerari launched Dominic Oduro down the right flank, and his hard cross into the penalty box was knocked home by a sliding Marco Pappa.
  • The Rapids’ response came four minutes after the restart as a wide-open Akpan collected a through ball from Cummings in the right side of the penalty area and rifled a tightly angled shotthrough the hands of Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway and into the far corner.
  • Rapids head coach Gary Smith made three changes to the team that fell 1-0 to Seattle Sounders FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Anthony Wallace came into the back four for Marvell Wynne, Sanna Nyassi came into the midfield for the suspended Brian Mullan, and Andre Akpan replaced Caleb Folan in attack.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace - Sanna Nyassi (Ross LaBauex 89), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Jamie Smith - Andre Akpan, Omar Cummings.

TEAM NEWS

  • In his first career MLS start – and just his third league appearance in two years with the club – Harvard University alumnus Andre Akpan scored his first goal for Colorado in the 1-1 draw with Chicago.
  • “I’ve been waiting for nearly a year and a half just to get the chance to start and really put my impact on the game. Finally I got a start, unfortunately it’s because of injury, but I was called upon,” Akpan said. “I thought if I could just get in and contribute and maybe get a goal I could be in the mind of the coach for the next few games. I was able to do that (score) so hopefully I can continue (playing).”
  • The strike partnership of Akpan and Omar Cummings was the sixth different pair Rapids boss Gary Smith has run out in seven games this season.
  • “I thought the pair of them were great,” Gary Smith said. “There’s always going to be that little bit of miscommunication, a lack of rapport. It’s probably Omar’s fourth partner. At the moment, it’s our time of the season to dig deep and I thought they did (against Chicago).”
  • The result put an end to a three-game losing streak for Colorado, and Akpan’s goal was the first for the Rapids in 319 minutes dating back to April 3.
  • “Three defeats on the skid, I think it might be the first time that’s happened since I’ve been here. It wasn’t nice. If you look at the circumstances that surround the loss in Salt Lake that I keep going on about, it was not a goal and we get beat. ... And then last week was a very difficult challenge and with 10 men it was tough,” Smith said. “So tonight’s the first opportunity in a long while for the guys to go out and display what they’re about with 11 men.”
  • Smith said Akpan’s performance could give him pause when filling out his lineup, and the squad depth could be augmented for the busy week.
  • “I see no reason why guys like Marvell [Wynne], Caleb [Folan], Quincy [Amarikwa] (shouldn’t be back soon) – maybe on Wednesday and probably looking towards the following weekend,” Smith said. “By the way we can add Wells [Thompson] into that – he had food poisoning just before the game.”
  • The Rapids now hit the road for three consecutive games, starting with the trip to Houston, They visit New England at the weekend, then return to the East Coast for a game at D.C. United on May 14. The Rapids finished back-to-back games in Commerce City with one point from a possible six.
  • “You can always feel disappointed when you don’t win at home,” Smith said. “But we have had to fight against a lot of adversity. All in all, with a side that has struggled with health, the guys out there gave a terrific display and it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”