Rapids Host Defending Champion Dynamo Saturday

COMMERCE CITY CO (From MLS & Rapids reports) - In need of a win to kick off the final third of the season your Colorado Rapids play host to the league's best team point-wise the Houston Dynamo when they meet for the third time this season tomorrow night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Kickoff is at 7:00pm MT and the game will be televised on HDNet.
Your Rapids currently hold the #4 spot in the West on 18 points. The Dynamo are holding down the #1 spot in the West on 34 points.
The Rapids are coming off a hard-fought loss to FC Dallas last weekend ending an excruciating road trip that saw the team away from the friendly confines of their home stadium for over a month. Heading into last weekend the Dynamo hadn't lost in 11 league games but saw that streak come to an end in a loss to the league's worst team Real Salt Lake.
For the full match preview of the game itself featuring projected lineups the latest injury reports game notes and more visit the Rapids MatchUp Page by CLICKING HERE.
HOUSTON DYNAMO AT COLORADO RAPIDS
This Saturday Aug. 11
Dick's Sporting Goods Park
Kickoff: 7pm MT
REFEREE: Terry Vaughn. SAR (bench): George Vergara; JAR (opposite): Jose Corro; 4th: Ben Chouaf
MLS Career: 77 games; FC/gm: 31.1; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 23; pens: 23
Games involving Rapids: P11 W7 L3 T1; FC/gm: 29.1; Y/gm: 4.2; R: 3; pens: 4
Games involving Dynam P3 W0 L2 T1; FC/gm: 36.7; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 0; pens: 0
HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Rapids 1 win 8 goals ... Dynamo 4 wins 14 goals ... Draws 1 AT
• This is the third and final league meeting scheduled between the clubs this season the second one at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Dynamo have won both previous meetings this season winning in Colorado in May then a month later in Houston.
• A year ago the Dynamo won the season series winning twice once on each ground including a 5-2 triumph in the club's first ever game on April 2 at Robertson Stadium which set the club record for goals in a game and margin of victory.
• The teams then met in the Western Conference Championship at Robertson Stadium on Nov. 5 Dynamo securing a magical conclusion to their inaugural season with a 3-1 victory and a berth in MLS Cup 2006 (Dalglish 10 21; Mullan 71 - Kirovski 4)

COACHES' RECORDS:
Fernando Clavijo vs. HOU: P6 W1 L4 D1 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. COL: P14 W8 L2 D4
2007 (MLS):
5/5: COL 1 HOU 3 (Brown 5 - Ching 55; De Rosario 63 68)
6/7: HOU 2 COL 1 (Ngwenya 3; Holden 63 - Cancela 12 pen)

• The Rapids lost for the first time at their new Dick's Sporting Goods Park home going ahead through an early goal only to be hit for three goals in 14 minutes in the second half in a 3-1 loss to the Dynamo on May 5.
• Roberto Brown gave the Rapids an early lead as stabbed home after just five minutes. But after the break the Dynamo hit for a three-goal blitz to finally break out of their scoring slump. Brian Ching came sliding in to knock home a Brad Davis cross (55) then Dwayne De Rosario scored twice within six minutes. hammering home a wicked blast (63) before providing the final touch over the line for a ball bobbling in the goalmouth.
• In the last meeting June 7 at Robertson Stadium the Dynamo hit for a second-half goal to defeat the Rapids 2-1.
• The rematch of last year's Western Conference Championship got off to a blazing start the teams trading goals over the first 12 minutes. The Dynamo opened the scoring just three minutes into the game when Brian Mullan took a knockdown and sent Joseph Ngwenya clean through on goal. Ngwenya raced into the penalty area unmolested before slotting the ball under Bouna Coundoul.
• But in the 12th minute Eddie Robinson was adjudged to have pulled down Conor Casey as they grappled for the ball in the area and Jose Cancela sent Zach Wells the wrong way in converting from the spot for his first goal of the season.
• The Dynamo hit for the game-winner in the 63rd minute. Just seconds after coming on as a substitute Stuart Holden took a pass from Kelly Gray in the right side of the area and lashed a rising shot past the outstretched hands of Coundoul and into the upper far corner.
• Here's Kinnear's team (4-1-3-2): Zach Wells - Craig Waibel Ryan Cochrane (Patrick Ianni 84) Eddie Robinson Wade Barrett - Kelly Gray - Brian Mullan Richard Mulrooney Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 73) - Joseph Ngwenya Chris Wondolowski (Stuart Holden 62). Substitutes Not Used: Jordan James Mike Chabala Nick Hatzke Mike Sambursky
• Here's Clavijo's team (4-3-3): Bouna Coundoul - Chris Wingert Ugo Ihemelu Mike Petke Brandon Prideaux (Omar Cummings 85) - Pablo Mastroeni Kyle Beckerman Jose Cancela (Terry Cooke 68) - Jacob Peterson (Nicolas Hernandez 71) Herculez Gomez Conor Casey. Substitutes Not Used: Stephen Keel Jovan Kirovski Zach Thornton Daniel Wasson
COLORADO RAPIDS MATCH NOTES:
The Colorado Rapids saw their winless streak extended to 10 games losing 1-0 to FC Dallas last Saturday evening at Pizza Hut Park. The Rapids have 19 points from 18 games but still sit in fourth place in the Western Conference nine points behind Chivas USA and 15 points out of the automatic playoff spots in the division.
LAST MATCH
• FC Dallas came in having not lost in their last four league games yet were eliminated from SuperLiga in a remarkable 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy their last time out. The Rapids scored goals for the first time in four games in their last outing but still saw their winless streak stretched to nine games in a 2-2 draw at Kansas City.
• The Hoops took the lead in the 31st minute. Dax McCarty whipped in a free kick from the right flank and it bounded in front of Rapids goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul and through the other side. But defender Drew Moor slipped in unopposed at the far post to nod it over the line from close range.
• FC Dallas goalkeeper Ray Burse was making his MLS debut for the injured Dario Sala and made three saves for his first professional shutout including a remarkable save from point-blank save on Jacob Peterson that left the Rapids striker holding his head. But he got some help from his back four as well -- Clarence Goodson clearing a quick shot by Herculez Gomez from a corner out of the goalmouth with Burse seemingly beaten.
• Rapids head coach Fernando Clavijo made two changes to the team that came back to claim a 2-2 draw with the Kansas City Wizards two weeks previous. Mehdi Ballouchy was suspended and Herculez Gomez returned to the substitutes' bench as Colin Clark and Jacob Peterson both came back into the team as Clavijo reconfigured his lines.
• Here's Clavijo's team (3-1-4-2): Bouna Coundoul - Brandon Prideaux Ugo Ihemelu Facundo Erpen - Pablo Mastroeni - Terry Cooke (Daniel Osorno 59) Jose Cancela Jovan Kirovski (Herculez Gomez 59) Colin Clark - Nicolas Hernandez Jacob Peterson. Substitutes Not Used: Conor Casey Omar Cummings Dan Gargan Stephen Keel Zach Thornton
• "I thought in the second half we created enough chances to score but we couldn't said Clavijo. "But it's been our history of the games so far this year we can't score. We had good chances had good possession in the second half I thought you could see there was really one team trying to push hard. But you can't win games without scoring goals."

TEAM NEWS
• In the Rapids' last league game Clavijo ran out a strike pair of Jovan Kirovski and Herculez Gomez. Against FC Dallas he brought Jacob Peterson back into the team while Nicolas Hernandez who had started the year as an out-and-out striker had been playing more recently as a wide midfielder.
• "I think he did well Clavijo said of Peterson's performance. "We had a lot of young guys in today. The guys that we are trying up front tonight they haven't been able to find the net. So we have to keep working and try to find the right combination."
• It was the sixth time in the last eight league games the Rapids were shut out. But this was different from the ones that had come before.
• "I'm an offensive player and it's very frustrating when you're in a system where you don't get those looks. But I felt those looks were there tonight Rapids forward Herculez Gomez said. "I want to be mad but I can't. I would be mad if we weren't creating opportunities because this is the first time that I can say that we're creating opportunities. I would be more disappointed if we weren't creating them but they're coming. That's a positive a move in the right direction."
• Said Pablo Mastroeni: "We're missing the goal by inches. It's one of those games that just didn't go your way. But it's positive because we're doing everything we can. It's easy to give up and play defense for 90 minutes the rest of the season and lose 1-0. But I think the effort today was worthy of some sort of result."
• Another positive from the loss is that Colorado looks to be getting better acclimated to the three-man back line that Clavijo recently elected to employ. The Rapids have allowed just four goals in their last five MLS games. But they've lost two games by 1-0 scorelines and they've played to a pair of scoreless draws.
• "I think it's good. So far up to this point in the season we haven't put a lot of numbers on the board and haven't created a lot of chances going forward. With three in the back that offers another guy in the midfield and has opened up a lot of space said Mastroeni. "It allows us to be more attack-oriented and I think we're doing a pretty good job of that. We're heading in the right direction and it's tough to adjust to a new system so late. We've done a good job in the last few games but we just need a little luck in turning this thing around."
• Clavijo admitted that if his side is to make a push at qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs that run will have to commence very soon.
• "Time is running out Clavijo said. "We have 11 games to go and have 36 points. We need to start winning games. The good part of it is that we have three home games this month and hopefully we can get three victories and things will change." Added Mastroeni: "Our backs are against the wall as far as the season is concerned. We feel like we have to put a run together here and get some points. We gave up a goal on the bad end of a restart and they did well to capitalize on it."
• The Rapids saw their Open Cup run come to a stunning conclusion on Tuesday when they were defeated 5-0 by the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field. Taylor Graham and Zach Scott scored on set pieces two minutes apart midway through the first half then Ugo Ihemelu saw a rebound hit off him into his own goal two minutes before halftime to make it 3-0. Four minutes after the break matters got worse for the Rapids when Facundo Erpen was sent off with a second yellow card and Josh Gardner (56) and Sebastian Le Toux (68) finished off the rout.
• Here's Clavijo's team: Zach Thornton Brandon Prideaux Ugo Ihemelu Facundo Erpen Colin Clark (Niko Hernandez 45) Jacob Peterson Pablo Mastroeni (Jovan Kirovski 60) Jose Cancela (Dan Gargan 51) Mehdi Ballouchy Conor Casey Herculez Gomez (Daniel Osorno 64). Substitutes Not Used: Bouna Coundoul Terry Cooke Nick LaBrocca
HOUSTON DYNAMO MATCH NOTES:
The Houston Dynamo saw their 11-game league unbeaten streak finally come to an end the game's lone goal coming in the 85th minute as Real Salt Lake claimed victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium last Saturday night. Dynamo still lead the Western Conference with 34 points from 20 matches now just a point ahead of FC Dallas (who have played one fewer game) while also still holding the most points in the league.
LAST MATCH
• The Dynamo came into the game not having lost in league play since May 26 and with just one defeat in their last 15 games in all competitions after an unbeaten run through group play in SuperLiga. Real's only win on the season had come five games earlier -- with the four games in between all losses.
• A scrappy affair finally saw a goal scored in the 85th minute -- after a rare Houston defensive misplay. Chris Lancos sent the ball forward and as Wade Barrett tried to play it a poor touch allowed Findley to latch onto it and race in at goal. With a shot from the right side of the area Findley found the inside of the left netting past Onstad's dive and gave Real the eventual game-winner.
• Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that battled the New England Revolution to a 3-3 draw in their previous league match. Ricardo Clark and Brian Mullan both came back into the team as Nate Jaqua went to the substitutes' bench and Dwayne De Rosario was given the night off.
• Here's Kinnear's team (4-4-2): Pat Onstad - Craig Waibel (Corey Ashe 70) Ryan Cochrane Eddie Robinson Wade Barrett - Brian Mullan (Patrick Ianni 90) Ricardo Clark Richard Mulrooney Stuart Holden (Nate Jaqua 46) - Joseph Ngwenya Brian Ching. Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala Paul Dalglish Zach Wells Chris Wondolowski
• "They took advantage of as at a very vulnerable time. I thought we defended OK; they had a couple of looks. They were sensing that they could get forward. I thought we did OK keeping them away. I didn't think they were all over us; they had possession at times and so did we said Kinnear.
TEAM NEWS
• The Dynamo's last league reverse came on May 26 against D.C. United and since that point they have gone on a tear winning 10 games and drawing four in all competitions the club's single defeat coming in a U.S. Open Cup match 0-1 to the USL First Division Charleston Battery.
• "That's impressive no matter what league you're in said Kinnear. "It's been on the road it's been at home. And Houston is not exactly an easy place to play with the heat and the humidity. I could not do anything but applaud these guys because every single day -- including today -- they've brought their best effort."
• But the streak finally came to an end as Houston completed a stretch of five games in 13 days including going through group play in SuperLiga unbeaten with a win and a draw against Mexican sides America and Morelia respectively followed by a win against D.C. United.
• "Yeah I think just think that our guys are dead. The guys tried but there wasn't much energy out there. We're not complaining [about the schedule] because it comes from being successful the year before. But in reality it's very hard on the players said Kinnear. "We ran out of gas probably 20 minutes in just kind of broke forward every once in a while and tried to defend. A little mix-up in the back lets them through and that's the game."
• Since the start of July the Dynamo have played 11 games (seven in league play three in SuperLiga one in the U.S. Open Cup). This is just the second time in seven weeks Houston has had a midweek off.
• "It is a lot of games a lot of legs. I'm sure people are a little leggy right now but we don't really want to make excuses because there are other teams in that situation also said Ricardo Clark. "I think the next couple games are a week apart so we should get some rest and get our legs back. All we can do is look forward from now."
• While the Orange could also face two games in week in two of the next three weeks with success in SuperLiga they have no more midweek league games over the remainder of the MLS campaign.
• "I think we're going to relax and try to rest up a little bit said Ching. "It's been a crazy month - crazy two months actually. Right now our focus is to get regenerated and get back to where we were in the past two months. It's just a hiccup in the road. I think we have the guys to go and repeat and I think you've seen that over the past two months."