The Houston Dynamo host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night (7:15 p.m. CT) to close out a three-game homestand at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Rapids have enjoyed a considerable turnaround this season with a 13-5-12 record (51 points), five points back of Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas with two games in hand. This comes after finishing last in the Western Conference in 2015 (9-15-10, 37 points).
The key for Colorado has been the league’s best defense and a stellar home record. Their 27 goals allowed is eight better than the second-best team, Toronto FC, and they are the last remaining team undefeated at home in MLS (10-0-5). Axel Sjöberg has started 28 games in central defense for the Rapids, and the defense was further bolstered by the midseason arrival of USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The defense is needed as the attack’s 33 goals is the second-least in the league, but the scoring load has been shouldered throughout the team. Swiss international Shkëlzen Gashi leads the team with 7 goals and has added 4 assists, and Dominique Badji and Kevin Doyle have contributed an extra 4 goals apiece. Midfielder Marlon Hairston is the team leader with 5 assists.
Here's what interim head coach Wade Barrett had to say about Colorado's side: “They haven’t given up many goals, which is an impressive thing over the course of the season. It shows commitment, not just from the guys defending but from everybody around the field. It will be a tall task for us to try to break that down and try to create chances, but that being said our guys have looked confident this week. We’ve got some guys that I know are going to be hungry to get in and create chances and to score goals. It will be difficult to do because they have been organized but we’ll do our best to create as much as possible.
“They haven’t scored a lot of goals but they’ve won a lot of close contests. That said, they do create things and have some dangerous players. Kevin Doyle has had a very good season, Dominique Badji has been playing recently and he has a ton of speed. Gashi has been a really good addition to the team, he’s a very good player and can hurt you in a couple different ways. Hairston has looked very good recently. He’s been a good player for a while but his run of form right now is really good. They also have some good pros around the field, Sam Cronin has been in the league a long time and is a very solid player. Dillon Powers has been a good player. They’ve got guys across the back that have been very committed. They have a very professional team.”