Scott Palguta has been a regular on the Colorado Rapids bench this season, but he hadn’t made it onto the field this year. That changed Wednesday night in Houston.
Palguta not only got his first start at left back in 2011, but he also scored the winner - his first goal for the Rapids - as Colorado battled back from a goal down to take a 2-1 win and three valuable points in Texas. Palguta latched onto a pass back from Caleb Folan in the 84th minute, then rifled home a left-footed shot into the corner from just inside the penalty area.
Watch: Full match highlights
Rapids coach Gary Smith says Palguta got the nod to start because his team needed a bit more of a physical presence for this game, especially at set pieces.
“He had looked pretty decent in reserve games and we needed to be physically equipped on dead balls,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “I thought the lads were great at doing that. I’d like to say I planned the goal.”
Palguta’s goal added to Jamie Smith’s equalizer in the 74th minute from a 40-yard free kick that found its way into the Houston net after Dynamo ‘keeper Tally Hall misjudged the flight of the ball. Colin Clark, the former Rapids player, had opened the scoring for the Dynamo three minutes earlier when he found some room in the penalty area and shot through Palguta’s legs into the Rapids net.
Smith described the Houston goal as “pretty disappointing” given it went though Palguta’s legs. But the coach said he was delighted overall with a performance which builds on solid games so far for most of this season.
“All in all, we did our job properly, which was to maintain better possession,” he said. “We have had eight performances this season and only one bad one and, if we continue to play like that, we should get what we deserve over the course of a season.”
The one piece of bad news was the sprained ankle suffered by Omar Cummings in the first half. Smith said the striker would return to Colorado early and not make the trip to New England for the weekend. Thankfully, Folan and Quincy Amarikwa had some time on the field after their own injury worries.
Smith said he was very pleased with the performance of his strikers, especially Amarikwa and second-year pro Andre Akpan, who started his second straight game
“We are having trouble keeping them all fit at the moment, but having six forwards is serving us well,” Smith said. “I thought the two young guys looked great and I am sure they will continue to be a handful.”
The Rapids fly to Boston on Thursday to face the New England Revolution on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).