COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The Colorado Rapids buried the visiting Houston Dynamo 3-0 on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park with all three goals coming inside the first 23 minutes of the match.
Jamie Smith's first Rapids goal put Colorado ahead after just two minutes and then Houston dug itself into a deeper hole when midfielder Lovel Palmer was sent off after just 10 minutes for retaliating against Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni after the two collided in pursuit of a ball. Forwards Omar Cummingsand Conor Casey put away the result with another two goals inside the first 23 minutes.
While the win helps the Rapids hold on to their playoff positioning, the Dynamo fell further behind in the race for the postseason.
Casey was the provider on Colorado's first two talles, providing a perfect through ball to Smith and serving up Cummings with an appetizing cross in front of goal in the 16th minute. Seven minutes later the big forward notched his team's third with a header into an open net.
The game was largely over as the teams entered the locker rooms at the halftime break.
The second half largely petered out into a predictable affair. Houston, who took off veteran striker Brian Ching after 45 minutes for a reported calf problem, largely failed to create anything meaningful and the Rapids didn’t create as many chances as in that opening first half.
The Rapids' best opportunity came through Casey, who missed the target in the 81st minute.
Casey tied ex-Rapids forward John Spencer for second on the Rapids' all-time goal scoring list. He just needs two more to reach 39 and tie Paul Bravo, the club’s current technical director.
Goalkeeper Ian Joyce made his first ever MLS start in the Colorado goal after regular starter Matt Pickens pulled out with back spasm problems.
COL -- Jamie Smith 1 (Conor Casey 4) 2
COL -- Omar Cummings 6 (Conor Casey 5, Pablo Mastroeni 2) 16
COL -- Conor Casey 8 (unassisted) 23
HOU -- Lovel Palmer (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 10
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 11
HOU -- Danny Cruz (caution; Reckless Foul) 70
COL -- Conor Casey (caution; Handball) 72
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Richard Mulrooney, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Andrew Hainault, Danny Cruz, Anthony Obodai (Eddie Robinson 25), Brian Mullan, Lovel Palmer, Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 46), Dominic Oduro (Mike Chabala 23).
Substitutes Not Used: Corey Ashe, Brad Davis, Joseph Ngwenya, Tally Hall.
Colorado Rapids -- Ian Joyce, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne (Danny Earls 43), Julien Baudet (Scott Palguta 69), Drew Moor, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni (Wells Thompson 60), Jamie Smith, Conor Casey, Omar Cummings.
Substitutes Not Used: Andre Akpan, Quincy Amarikwa, Claudio Lopez, Chris Sharpe.
Referee: Abiodun Okulaja; Referee's Assistants: -Anthony Vasoli; Peter Balciunas; 4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:48
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-88-degrees