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  • Richard Fleming

Match Preview: Time For The Rapids To Step On The Gas

HOUSTON DYNAMO FC vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (1pm) PNC Stadium, Houston, TX | Sunday, October 31, 2021 | Altitude TV

For the Colorado Rapids, their previous two matchdays resulted in a postseason berth secured and then - with the help of scores elsewhere - a home game guaranteed in the opening round of the playoffs. Though three points is the aim, one point from Sunday’s game in Houston will assure the Rapids third place in the Western Conference.

But if you listen to anyone around the club, there is no specific position they have in mind; they simply want to finish as high as possible. To achieve that, the fighting and scrapping seen in recent times will have to be married with greater sharpness in front of goal. That was lacking at New England Revolution last time out.

A win for the Rapids (55pts) on Sunday afternoon would lift them level on points with second-placed Seattle Sounders (58pts), who are set to welcome back Jordan Morris for their home game against LA Galaxy on Monday evening.

Sporting Kansas City head into Sunday’s schedule on the same number of points as the Sounders, but top of the pile courtesy of a better goal difference. Both teams have won 17 games, which is the first tiebreaker after points. Victory at the Dynamo would keep the Rapids in third as they would have won 16 games. (STANDINGS)

This will be a third meeting of the 2021 season with the Dynamo, who have endured another season of struggle under Tab Ramos. Both previous encounters, at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on May 15 and in Houston on August 14, ended in 3-1 wins for the Rapids.

The six goals for the Rapids came from six different scorers - Sam Vines, Diego Rubio, Cole Bassett, Lalas Abubakar, Michael Barrios, and Braian Galvan.

Houston will be minus Matias Vera due to yellow card accumulation. The Rapids have two players walking the yellow card tightrope, one away from a suspension, in Lalas Abubakar and Collen Warner. The Dynamo also has a doubt surrounding the fitness of Corey Baird, who briefly played alongside Mark-Anthony Kaye at LAFC before switching Houston in July.

Fraser may be able to call upon Keegan Rosenberry and Kellyn Acosta this weekend. Both missed the 1-0 loss at New England Revolution on Wednesday night due to injury. Rosenberry hobbled out of the 1-1 home draw with the Sounders on October 20 with a bruised ankle, which also forced him to miss the win over Portland last weekend, while Acosta was nursing a heel issue.

With just two games remaining, one suspects the Rapids boss will try to settle on the side he feels is his best 11, and that in itself could be tricky. That said, if all are fit, then expect Jack Price, Danny Wilson, Rosenberry, Acosta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Dominique Badji, and Barrios to feature among the starters as the Rapids chase their eighth road win of the year.

Victory at PNC Stadium would lift the Rapids to 58 points, to equal the franchise high for a single season, set in 2016 when they went all the way to the Western Conference Championship, before falling to eventual MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders.

Houston has managed a meagre six wins from 32 games, and those six successes all came at home, though they have managed to do what the Rapids failed to achieve, by beating both Sporting KC, and the Sounders. The Dynamo are 6-4-6 at home, yet a woeful 0-10-6 on their travels.

Despite their struggles, in Fafa Picault they do have a scorer in double digits. Picault has a career-high 11 on the season, one more than when he was a teammate of Auston Trusty and Rosenberry at Philadelphia Union in 2018.

The Rapids are unbeaten in the previous five meetings with the Dynamo (3-0-2), winning the most recent three, including the last two in Houston. As well as the 3-1 victory in August, they also bagged a 2-1 triumph in the final regular season game of 2020. Younes Namli scored only his second goal of the stop-start campaign (pictured above), with the winner coming deep into stoppage time from Diego Rubio.

A similar scoreline on Sunday would leave them needing a Galaxy win on Monday at an out-of-sorts Seattle - albeit with Morris returning - to set up a mouth-watering race for places on Decision Day Sunday, November 7, when the Rapids host LAFC, and Seattle heads to Vancouver. Sporting KC has three games to go - at Minnesota on Sunday morning, Austin next Wednesday, before finishing at home to Real Salt Lake.

Coverage of Houston Dynamo FC and the Colorado Rapids begins on Altitude TV from 12.30pm. The match itself will get underway inside PNC Stadium at 1.08pm.

Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr Assistant Referees: Felisha Mariscal, Gjovalin Bori 4th Official: Nima Saghafi VAR: Younes Marrakchi. AVAR: Fabio Tovar


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