For the Burgundy Boys, the trip to Houston on Decision Day proved challenging and rewarding. Head Coach Robin Fraser chose to rotate the squad beyond the "usual suspects" like Auston Trusty coming in for Danny Wilson. Elsewhere in the starting lineup we saw Jeremy Kelly at right back, Nicolas Mezquida into attacking midfield, Jon Lewis on the left wing and Braian Galvan on the right wing.
The first half was pretty lackluster in terms of action. One noteworthy moment came when Trusty was in possession deep in our own half. He was being closed down by two attackers when he did a 1-2 dribble to himself, tapping the ball from left foot to right and back to his left. He squeezed out of pressure and released the ball to Sam Vines on the left wing. Not none as the better ball handlers in the backline he did an excellent job in this situation.
At halftime Coach Fraser made some changes with club captain Jack Price and DP Younes Namli entering the game. This changed everything for the team as the tempo picked up immediately. Going into the 60' we saw Younes Namli lead the charge through central midfield on a counter attack. He laid the ball off well to Shinyashiki on his left side, who tried chipping the keeper. Shot stopped but when right back to Namli who slotted it home easily. 1-0 Rapids.
Eight minutes later the Rapids had a goal kick which was headed back into the danger zone just outside the box. Lalas Abubakar stepped up to pressure the ball while Kelly looked to track the outside runner. Deflection off Kelly led to the ball going straight into Houston striker Manotas's path. A quick shot slightly deflected off Abubakar's leg and it went past Yabrough. Tie game in the 68'.
As the second half wore on the Rapids looked desperate to hang on. Rosenberry replaced Kelly in the 81'. Abubakar received a yellow in the 90' as Manotas got past him outside the box. A professional foul as they say.
Moments later Jack Price received the ball in front of the box and found Cole Bassett to his left. A very nice touch under pressure from the captain. With great awareness and precision, Bassett found substitute Diego Rubio making a direct run straight up field. Houston defense was out of position pushing for a late goal. As Rubio races into open space it looks like a 2v2 situation. Shinyashiki on the right side enters the box. Rubio fakes a shot putting Houston defender Figueroa off balance. The Chilean buries it in the bottom right corner with a curling striker. 2-1 Rapids.
The stoppage time winner proved to be the difference maker. The Colorado Rapids had already punched their ticket into the MLS Cup Playoffs but this moved them up the rankings into 5th place. A first round matchup against familiar foe with old friend in the ranks, Kei Kamara and Minnesota United.
I'll have more coverage of the Rapids playoff hope and a season wrap up coming too. Until next time, stay safe out there soccer fans!