COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni stresses the importance of finding the “key moments” of games in securing wins, and perhaps no moment was more key than Sean St Ledger’s cross to Kevin Doyle in the 79th minute of their 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday night.
“It’s why the games are won by the players of the field, and that’s an example of that,” Mastroeni said in his postgame comments from Dick's Sporting Goods Park. “You never want a center back charging in like that. That’s not something you draw up. It’s a player that feels the moment and understands that this could be a key opportunity.”
St Ledger has now been a key part of that since his arrival earlier this month after his dismissal from Orlando City SC. Yet despite the Rapids posting a 2-1 record in his three starts, St. Ledger doesn’t feel like the team’s talisman.
“No I don’t think so,” he said when asked if he was the team’s good luck charm. “I think it was a product of the hard work we’ve put in since I’ve arrived.”
It wasn’t luck according to St. Ledger, but he nevertheless provided a level of “Irish comfort” playing alongside international teammate Doyle, particularly in combining for the game winner.
“I thought he might have a chance to cross it, and I thought he might kill me if I didn’t get a chance with all that effort,” Doyle said of St. Ledger’s cross. “There is a level of understanding there. We’ve played a long time together with Ireland, a lot of games over the years. He does pick me out a lot from the back, but he doesn’t usually pick me out from the end line with a peachy cross, so I’m delighted for him. He’s settled in.”
While the assist provided a very tangible offensive measuring stick of production in Wednesday night’s game, the 30-year-old central defender has done exactly what he was brought in to do in his three appearances with Colorado thus far, with just two goals conceded by the team in his three starts.
“[St Ledger] has been an anchor back there and a great voice,” added Mastroeni. “When he contributes like this, it’s icing on the cake. We created quite a bit, and that play was a breath of fresh air for us. It was fitting for the job he was doing defensively to be able to contribute on the offensive end.”
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With the win against Houston, the Rapids kept their slim hopes for the postseason alive. But it will perhaps take continued performances from unexpected places if Colorado are to turn that goal into a reality.
“It was an important goal for us and a very important win,” Doyle said. “We have a little bit of momentum now with two wins in a row. At the moment we need to win to have any chance at the playoffs.”