Colorado Rapids (7-6-7, 28 points, 6th in Western Conference) vs. Houston Dynamo (6-10-5, 23 points, 7th in Western Conference)
Saturday, August 28, 8:30 p.m. CT
Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City CO
All-time record: Houston lead the series 8-3-3 (7-3-3 regular season)
7:45 p.m. SportsTalk 790 (English)
8 p.m. Fox Soccer Channel (English)
8 p.m. Fox Sports en Espanol (Spanish)
8 p.m. La Ranchera 850 (Spanish)
This matchup is another crucial game for both Western Conference teams. Colorado has won only once in its last 10 games, and Saturday’s match is the first of two straight at home, while Houston is trying to stay in the playoff race.
Earlier this year, the Rapids and the Dynamo drew 2-2 in Houston after the World Cup break. In 2009, each team beat the other 1-0 at home.
After a disappointing defeat last week on the road in Columbus, where the Rapids failed to take advantage of superior possession, the team is looking forward to two consecutive home games, against Houston on Saturday and against Chivas USA on the following weekend.
Both opponents are below the Rapids in the Western Conference, and Rapids head coach Gary Smith has described these games as “very winnable.” Scott Palguta, who started against the Crew last weekend in central defense, said earlier this week that these next two home games are must-wins.
“These games at home [are against] what is perceived to be weaker opposition,” Palguta said. “That’s a tricky word to use, because nobody is truly weak in this league. Anybody can beat anybody. But at home, down the stretch, these are games we have to win."
Houston had an encouraging victory against the Chicago Fire last weekend -- its first in league play since May 22 -- thanks mainly to Brian Ching's hat trick. Ching scored his third goal in the 85th minute to clinch victory for the Dynamo after Chicago had battled back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game.
The Dynamo have conceded more goals than any other team in the Western Conference.
Heroes & Villains
Conor Casey and Omar Cummings vs. Houston's defense -- The Rapids’ strikers are due for a breakout game. Casey has not netted since a July 17 equalizer against Kansas City, and Cummings’ last goal was a screamer against Seattle in a 2-1 road loss on July 25. The Rapids have created enough chances despite their recent poor run, so the suffering Houston defense may have its work cut out against two Colorado strikers chomping at the bit to turn things around.
Stat that makes you go "Hmm..."
Colorado has scored 22 goals so far this season. That is 10 less than the Rapids had at this point last season.
- Needs to score early in order to impose itself and break out of winless rut
- Must erase defensive mistakes, much like last week's, when the Rapids conceded a penalty in the sixth minute and later gave up a soft goal on a defensive error
- Need to be on high alert against a Colorado strike force eager to make amends for some not-so-clinical finishing recently
- Look for Brian Ching, who is coming off a hat trick and is frequently a thorn in Colorado’s side