Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo
2017 MLS Regular Season
Dick's Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, Colo.
Saturday, July 1 – 9 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Two teams bounced from the U.S. Open Cup this week will turn their attention back to the MLS regular season when the Colorado Rapids host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night. The Rapids fell 3-1 to FC Dallas in the Open Cup on Tuesday night, while the Dynamo were the only home team to lose in the Round of 16, defeated 2-1 on Wednesday by Sporting KC.
That home vs. road distinction may prove vital here. The Rapids have a winning record (5-3-1) at Dick's Sporting Goods Park this year, while the Dynamo haven't won an away encounter this season (0-6-2). Even so, the Dynamo are in second place in the Western Conference and the Rapids in last.
Tuesday's USOC loss may prove more costly than simply being knocked out of the tournament, as three key players -- Axel Sjoberg, Dillon Powers and Shkelzen Gashi -- left the Dallas loss with injuries. It's currently unclear if any of those three, who are usually starters when healthy, will be available Saturday. If not, Colorado will have to regroup once again and look for all hands to contribute.
“We had control of the game, then we lost some players due to injuries. That changes the plan and how you want to play on the road,” midfielder Micheal Azira said after the Open Cup loss. “It was bad for us, and then they scored. We could have done better in defending, but at the end of the day, the coach was proud of the guys and how everyone put in the effort. That’s very important to the guys to stay positive and move onto the next one.”
Teammate Dennis Castillo, who's gotten a run in the Open Cup, agreed.
“In the end, we can mention a bunch of factors that could play in the result, but its futbol,” Castillo said. “It’s what it is. Right now as bad as we could feel, we have to move on and prepare toward the next game.”
Head coach Pablo Mastroeni, talking to a local radio station on Thursday, is gearing up to rally his men.
"Resolve and mentality is so important to this group because there are so many variables that are affecting us at the moment," he said. "That’s why we’ve got to find a way to put our best foot forward, not make excuses, get better as a team to grind out results."
- Suspended: Micheal Azira (yellow card accumulation)
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Bobby Burling (knee); QUESTIONABLE – M Shkelzen Gashi (knee/Achilles); M Dillon Powers (groin), D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring), M Joshua Gatt (groin)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, right to left): Tim Howard – Mike da Fonte, Kortne Ford, Eric Miller, Mekeil Williams – Dillon Serna, Nana Boateng, Mohammed Saeid, Josh Gatt – Caleb Calvert, Kevin Doyle
Notes: Colorado has lost just one of its last 13 regular season meetings against Houston (7W-5D). The Rapids have outscored the Dynamo 22-11 over the last 13 matches...A loss to LA in their last home game saw a four-game home winning streak come to an end for the Rapids. During that streak, the Rapids allowed just two goals. In their loss to LA, they allowed three – the most goals they had allowed in a home match in their last 24 games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Make no mistake: The main goal for the Houston Dynamo this season is to make the MLS Cup playoffs.
They haven't reached the postseason since 2013, but there's no question that Wilmer Cabrera's side is Houston's best since that drought began. And with the playoffs still paramount, Cabrera made it clear that his decision to play reserves and call-ups from the Dynamo's USL affiliate, Rio Grande Valley FC, in the Open Cup was meant to keep the starters fresh for the league.
“If we didn’t play the first team [on Wednesday], it’s because we have the goal to work to try and get to the playoffs,” Cabrera noted after Wednesday's Open Cup loss.
For their part, the players had mixed feelings on being knocked out of the Open Cup and looking to rebound against the Rapids.
Veteran midfielder Vicente Sanchez reflected on the disappointment of the team's elimination.
“We are sad, the team fought and give everything they had," he said. "...We are eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and now we have to change our mentality and think on the league because we have a tough match coming up.”
Meanwhile, defender Dylan Remick believed the midweek disappointment could push Houston onward.
“You just got to use this as motivation," he said. "Everyone’s been playing well and this is a very important game for us in Colorado. It’s a good team, but it is a winnable game. We just got to put all this behind us and moved forward and focus on Colorado.”
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: Boniek Garcia (Honduras), Alberth Elis (Honduras), Romell Quioto (Honduras)
- Injury Report: OUT – D George Malki (ACL injury), M Eric Alexander
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, right to left): Tyler Deric – AJ DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, Jalil Anibaba – Alex, Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark, Memo Rodriguez – Erick "Cubo" Torres, Mauro Manotas
Notes: The Dynamo are winless in 10 consecutive MLS regular season away matches (6L-4D), dating back to October 12, 2016. Houston has only won twice in their last 33 regular season MLS away games (21L-10D)...Adolfo Machado leads MLS with 119 clearances. Only one other player (Joao Meira, 102) has more than 100 so far this season.
- Overall: COL 9 wins (33 goals) … HOU 8 wins (31 goals) … Ties 7
- At COL: COL 7 wins (16 goals) … HOU 3 wins (9 goals) … Ties 3
- Referee: Sorin Stoica
- Assistant Referee, near side: Jeremy Hanson
- Assistant Referee, far side: Anthony Vasoli
- 4th Official: Alex Chilowicz