Hall's big game gets Houston 0-0 draw

A sell-out crowd of more than 18,000 failed to rouse the Colorado Rapids sufficiently as the defending MLS Cup champions played out a goalless draw with the visiting Houston Dynamo Sunday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

The Rapids had the bulk of possession and clear cut chances but could not ever get their game going. That was in large part thanks to Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, who had a man-of-the-match performance in goal for the struggling Dynamo. Hall produced six saves on the night, many of the spectacular variety, to earn his third shutout of the season and first since May 14.


The closest the Rapids came in the first half to scoring was in the 10th minute, when Jamie Smith headed the ball off the post after a perfect cross from Brian Mullan. At the end of the half, Caleb Folan - partnering Omar Cummings upfront in the absence of the suspended Conor Casey - almost reached a back pass to get the ball to a wide-open Cummings, but Hall got a hand to the ball to thwart the chance.

The Rapids continued the pressure in the second half, but Houston was finally able to find chances of its own. In the 69th minute, Brad Davis skillfully played a chipped ball into the penalty area for Brian Ching, but the veteran striker could not connect on the tough chance with only Matt Pickens to beat. In the 53rd minute, Ching headed the ball past Pickens, but Geoff Cameron - who had headed the ball to Ching - was ruled offside.

The Rapids really stepped up the pressure in the final 10 minutes, but outstanding work from Hall preserved the Dynamo’s second consecutive road point. In the 80th minute, Rapids defender Drew Moor got a good header goalward after a Jamie Smith free kick, but Hall tipped it over. Two minutes later, the goalkeeper dove to his right to stop a shot from second-half substitute Quincy Amarikwa. In the 85th, Hall again saved from Folan.

In the 90th minute, Folan got on the end of a clever set piece from Jeff Larentowicz. Folan rose above a static Houston defense but pushed his look just wide of the post. Amarikwa, who was the impetus for much of Colorado’s late push, was red-carded after the final whistle after exchanging words with referee Baldomero Toledo.

The Rapids remain in fifth place in the Western Conference and have a quick turnaround with a game this Wednesday at Sporting Kansas City. Houston  pulls into a tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference with Kansas City. The Dynamo next face Toronto at home on Saturday, July 9.

Houston Dynamo (4-6-8) vs. Colorado Rapids (5-5-8)
July 03, 2011 -- Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO

Scoring Summary:

Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Danny Cruz (Colin Clark 67), Geoff Cameron, Je-Vaughn Watson, Brad Davis, Brian Ching (Lovel Palmer 78), Will Bruin (Jason Garey 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Boswell, Mike Chabala, Tyler Deric, Hunter Freeman.

Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 78), Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Jamie Smith, Caleb Folan, Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 78).
Substitutes Not Used: Andre Akpan, Steward Ceus, Sanna Nyassi, Scott Palguta, Anthony Wallace.

Misconduct Summary:
HOU -- Colin Clark (caution; Reckless Foul) 75 
HOU -- Tally Hall (caution; Delaying a Restart) 91+ 
COL -- Quincy Amarikwa (caution; Dissent) 92+ 
COL -- Quincy Amarikwa (ejection; Abusive Language) 93+

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee's Assistants: Corey Rockwell; George Gansner
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
Attendance: 18,203
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-86 degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial