Colorado - Houston (image)

Preview: Rapids, Dynamo both need results in ESPN2 clash

The Colorado Rapids and Houston Dynamo meet in what is now an inter-conference clash as the club face off in the annual Independence Day extravaganza Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are coming off a second successive heavy defeat, falling 4-1 at the Columbus Crew last weekend. The Dynamo came back to snatch a big road point last weekend in a 2-2 draw at D.C. United.


REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): George Gansner; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 113 games; FC/gm: 25.2; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 45; pens: 44

INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS – DOUBTFUL: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); PROBABLE: DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Joseph Nane (R shoulder strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain) …

HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); DF Eddie Robinson (L knee MCL sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Brad Davis (L adductor strain); FW Cam Weaver (R hip strain)

SUSPENDED:  Conor Casey (until July 6)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Pablo Mastroeni … HOU: Lovel Palmer
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Conor Casey, Jeff Larentowicz, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace… HOU: Brad Davis

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
•    Goals from Jamie Smith and Scott Palguta overcame a Colin Clark strike against his former club as the Dynamo defeated the Rapids, 2-1, on May 4 at Robertson Stadium in their first meeting this season.
•    Colorado won for the first time ever at Robertson Stadium in the first meeting. After a 5-2 victory there in the club’s inaugural game, the Dynamo won five games in a row (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: Gary Smith v HOU: P6 W3 L2 D1 … Dominic Kinnear vs. COL: P23 W11 L6 D6

5/4: HOU 1, COL 2 (Clark 71 – Smith 74; Palguta 84)
•    The game burst to life over the final 20 minutes. Former Rapids midfielder Colin Clark opened the scoring in the 71st minute, tallying his first goal in a Dynamo uniform after a quick move to create space in the area and a shot that caught Rapids ‘keeper Matt Pickens cheating off his near post.
•    Just three minutes later, Colorado’s Jamie Smith scored on a 40-yard free kick after Houston ‘keeper Tally Hall misjudged the flight of the ball. Hall came off his line and could only flap at Smith’s curling effort, which bounced in the goal area and rolled into the net.
•    But the Rapids hit for the winner in the 84th minute. Houston struggled to clear the ball from a long Marvell Wynne throw-in, and Caleb Folan was able to poke it back to Scott Palguta at the top of the box, and he hammered a well-struck left-footed shot just inside Hall’s left-hand post.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2):Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman (Alex Dixon 85), Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe – Colin Clark, Lovel Palmer, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis – Will Bruin (Koke 77), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 62).
•    COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens – Kosuke Kimura, Scott Palguta, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor – Jamie Smith, Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson (Marvell Wynne 80) – Andre Akpan (Quincy Amarikwa 69), Omar Cummings (Caleb Folan 45).

The Colorado Rapids lost for a second consecutive match, this time a 4-1 defeat by the Columbus Crew on Sunday evening at Crew Stadium. The Rapids have 22 points from 17 games, sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference.

•    The Rapids took the lead after just five minutes, when Conor Casey executed a perfect snap header from Jamie Smith’s corner kick.
•    But the Crew were in the lead not long after. Eddie Gaven took the ball from Scott Palguta at midfield and went solo to the penalty area before cutting right and sliding a shot inside the far netting in the 12th minute. Then Andres Mendoza took advantage of an errant back pass in the 18th minute and rocketed an 18-yarder off the crossbar and into the net.
•    The match turned for good in the 29th minute when Casey was sent off by referee Andrew Chapin after lunging for a 50-50 ball with William Hesmer as the Crew goalkeeper went to the ground.
•    The Crew broke the game open after the break. Defender Chad Marshall’s clearance from in front of goal bounced over Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura near midfield, and Mendoza raced in alone, ripping a snap shot from 18 yards (47).
•    Then nine minutes later, a Gaven cross from the right side deflected off Tyrone Marshall and fell kindly to Tommy Heinemann. His one-time shot bounced once, but goalkeeper Matt Pickens could only get a piece of the shot before it trickled in over the line.
•    Rapids head coach Gary Smith made four changes to the team that lost 3-1 to the LA Galaxy at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Scott Palguta came in at fullback for Danny Earls, Brian Mullan and Jamie Smith came into the midfield for Sanna Nyassi and Wells Thompson,and Quincy Amarikwa replaced Caleb Folan up top.
•    COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Drew Moor, Tyrone Marshall, Scott Palguta - Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 68), Pablo Mastroeni (Ross LaBauex 75), Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith - Conor Casey (sent off 29), Quincy Amarikwa (Omar Cummings 46).

•    After a club-record nine-game undefeated streak, the Rapids have now lost back-to-back games, conceding seven goals in that time. They allowed just seven total in their unbeaten run.
•    “It’s unusual that A) we concede many goals, and B) were as sloppy as we were for the goals that took Columbus into the lead. It’s five games we have been beaten this season, and we have fallen foul to some decisions,” said Rapids head coach Gary Smith.
•    Conor Casey scored his fourth goal in the last five games, giving Colorado an early lead against Columbus. But he was later sent off as the Crew roared back for a 4-1 win and will be suspended for the Houston match.
•    It was the second consecutive game where a Rapids forward was sent off, after Caleb Folan was shown a red card in the LA Galaxy match.
•    “If we had stayed 11 on 11 at 2-1 down, we might still have been in the game, who knows?” said Gary Smith. “I think they were both very harsh decisions. On both occasions, the guys have got up and carried on. The referees seem to be looking at what the injury might be and not at the challenge.”
•    While the Rapids fell to .500 on the road (3-3-3) – one of just five teams at even or better on their travels – they also have a .500 record in Commerce City (2-2-4), one of five teams at even or worse at home.
•    “You’re going to get punished for those mistakes and we did tonight. You want to put it behind you but you also want it to teach you a lesson. I think by the time it went 3-1, you’re asking yourself a lot of questions, and 4-1 was a little bit of a dagger. And I still think we showed a lot of character in moments like that not to go down by 5 or 6,” said defender Drew Moor.
•    The Rapids have lost just twice all-time while hosting their Independence Day extravaganza. The annual fireworks display, billed as the best in Colorado, always draws large crowds who spur the team to perform: Eight times the game-winning goal has come in the 69th minute or later.
•    Brian Mullan returned to the lineup after completing his 10-game suspension following the injury to Seattle winger Steve Zakuani on April 22, starting on the right of midfield and playing 68 minutes.

The Houston Dynamo came back for a late draw, getting a last-gasp goal in a 2-2 tie with D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. The Dynamo have 19 points from 17 games on the season, sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

•    United took the lead after 31 minutes when, from 25 yards out, Chris Pontius collected a pass and took two touches to find space before firing a low drive shot past a sprawling Tally Hall.
•    Just 10 minutes later, Houston was even. Brian Ching received the ball in the D.C. box and goalkeeper Bill Hamid dove in, catching the Dynamo striker. Referee Mark Kadlecik pointed to the spot, and Brad Davis stepped up and converted the penalty  in the 41st minute.
•    D.C. regained the lead again in the 73rd minute. Substitute Fred played a cross-field ball to the right wing for Andy Najar, who danced past Colin Clark and headed toward the post. A Houston defender intervened to strip Najar, but Davies was there to poke home.
•    But throwing numbers forward in search of an equalizer, the Dynamo tied the game in the 89th minute. Clark had time on the left wing, and curled in a cross to an unmarked Brian Ching, who headed home from inside the box.
•    Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made five changes to the team that fell 2-0 to the Columbus Crew at Robertson Stadium. Kofi Sarkodie and Jermaine Taylor came into the back four for Hunter Freeman and Bobby Boswell, Danny Cruz and Je-Vaughn Watson came into the midfield for Colin Clark and the suspended Lovel Palmer, and Brian Ching started up top for Cam Weaver.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-1-3-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie (Cam Weaver 78), Jermaine Taylor, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe (Mike Chabala 68) - Geoff Cameron - Danny Cruz, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis (Colin Clark 46) - Will Bruin, Brian Ching.

•    The Dynamo were forced to make a change when Brad Davis went off at halftime after re-aggravating a groin injury suffered late in the week in training. Davis passed a pre-match fitness test, but couldn’t carry on after the break.
•    “It’s comforting to know that if you take off Brad you have Colin [Clark] available,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “He went in and played well so I don’t think we lost anything with the sub.”
•    While the change for Lovel Palmer was forced, Kinnear made some real lineup shifts, with Brian Ching making his first start since since April 2 and playing the full match for the first time this season.
•    “We mixed it up a little bit, and I thought we did fine,” Kinnear said about his new lineup. “You look at Brian’s contribution, and he got pulled down for a penalty and he scores a goal. I thought Je-Vaughn and Geoff [Cameron] did well. Danny [Cruz] was obvious energy. Two guys we wanted to look at were Kofi and Jermaine, and I thought they were really solid.”
•    Jermaine Taylor returned from Gold Cup duty with Jamaica and partnered André Hainault in central defense, while Kofi Sarkodie made his third start of the season.
•    “Both individually and as a group, we need more chances and playing time. For me, my playing time has been limited, so when I get my chance, I have to be solid and play hard,” Taylor said.
•    The Dynamo have come back for eight points after conceding the first goal (one win and five draws in 11 games where they’ve allowed the opener), second in MLS behind the Columbus Crew (10 points in 10 games when conceding first).
•    “[Coming from behind] has happened a lot this year if you look at our record, coming back and getting a point after going down. We’ve lost games, but we still feel like we definitely need to get on a roll and we need to figure out a way to start winning some games,” Davis said. “All in all, when you are down a goal, all you can do is continue to fight until you get back in [the game] and that’s what the guys did tonight.”
•    The Dynamo finished the game with a three-pronged attack when Cam Weaver came on as a substitute and joined Bruin and Ching.
•    “[We] just went to a more attacking formation, and I think it was good that we kept swinging balls into the box,” Kinnear said. “I thought the pressure that we tried to put them under with balls in the box finally paid off.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.