With the Rapids looking to win their first ever Supporter’s Shield, the Houston Dynamo entered Dick’s Sporting Good Park looking to play the upset role. Despite early efforts from the Rapids to take the lead, it was the Dynamo who scored first in the 20′ before the home side tied things up in the second half to finish 1 – 1.
The goal came with Mauro Manotas playing just off the touchline with his back to goal. He spun and either attempted to put the ball into the opposite post from a tight angle or to find an on-rushing Andrew Wenger. Whatever the case, Tim Howard came out and deflected the shot/cross which fell perfectly to Wenger for an easy tap in. With the goal, the wide midfield clinched the Dynamo’s Golden Boot with 6 goals on the season, edging out Manotas due to having more assists.
There’s a lot to be said about a team’s Golden Boot winner only having 6 goals, or that player being a midfielder, but that’s for another day.
Houston were fortunate to be up early as the Rapids had several chances to take the lead. Dominique Badji, who scored a brace in the previous meeting, nearly scored on the break but pulled his shot wide. A second attempt later in the half was saved by Joe Willis. Kevin Doyle had a pair of headers that went wide from set pieces, including a gift off a corner that was sent with far too much power.
Indeed Willis’ net was very busy as the Rapids created 20 shots but only managed to put a quarter of them on frame.
Gashi tied the game up in the 67′ with a low, hard shot that was too quick for Willis to get down on to save. After the goal, the Rapids took firm control of the match and started putting the Dynamo defense to the test. With the normal trio of Raul Rodriguez, Agus and David Horst all sitting the match out, Jalil Anibaba and Keyner Brown were called on to start. The former has been the surprise standout at center back while the latter received much needed minutes. In this game they weren’t perfect and showed a lack of chemistry.
Fortunately the lack of chemistry didn’t punish them but it caused some nervous moments.
In more good news, individually, both played well.
In the bad news department, with the tie, FC Dallas won their second trophy of the season: Supporter’s Shield. No matter what happens in the playoffs, this will go down as their best season ever with two trophies (the other being US Open Cup). No one has one all three domestic trophies in a season in the past two decades, but rest assured they’ll give it a hard go in decade two plus one.
With the season now done and dusted, it’s almost high time for everyone in the team to move on. For everyone to forget 2016 happened. First, though, performances have to be assessed as the team is inevitably rebuilt this winter. In this particular match, Willis and Wenger stood out above the pack. Joe did well to control his box and make all the saves needed (minus one) to keep his team in the match. The defense was fairly organized as well in no small part due to his direction.
Wenger not only had the goal but caused trouble up and down the flank, with a few mistakes on the defensive end. Fortunately he was well protected by Sheanon Williams who also had a good performance. After starting the season off poorly, Williams has knuckled down and performed closer to his 2015 form. In this game he didn’t get involved in the offense much, instead allowing Wenger to be more of the focal point on the right flank.
Next up will be End of Season reviews by position before starting to look at how to revamp the roster for what will be an even more difficult Western Conference in 2017 with the newly added Minnesota United.