HOUvCOL_PREVIEW

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. ― After securing home field advantage for the first round of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Colorado Rapids (15-6-10, 55 points) visit Houston Dynamo FC (6-14-12, 30 points) on Sunday, Oct. 31. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. MT, with pregame coverage beginning on Altitude Sports at 12:30 p.m. and on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM at 12:45 p.m.

The Rapids secured a second playoff berth in two full seasons under head coach Robin Fraser with their 2-0 win over Portland last Saturday, and they locked up home field in the first round thanks to Sporting KC’s victory over LA Galaxy on Wednesday. With two games remaining, the Rapids can still catch Sporting for first place in the Western Conference and a bye to start the single-elimination playoff tournament.

“For us it’s very much about improving and working on the very small details that are going to make a very big difference as we go down the line,” Fraser said. “We have things we want to work at, things we want to improve at and things we want to get sharper in. But by the same token, we want to pick up points. We want to give ourselves a chance to move into the one or two spot in the West. That’s never lost. That is certainly part of the two-fold goal of this weekend, is to gain points and to continue to improve.”

A win on Sunday would be Colorado’s 16th of the season, the most since the club won 20 in 1999. It would also earn the Rapids’ 58th point of the season, tying a club record set in 2016.

Colorado will look to complete a three-game season sweep of Houston on Sunday. The Rapids took the first meeting, 3-1, with two assists from Michael Barrios on goals from Sam Vines and Diego Rubio before Cole Bassett’s second goal of the season on May 15 in Colorado. Then on Aug. 14 in Houston, Lalas Abubakar, Barrios and Braian Galván scored as the Rapids started a three-game winning streak with another 3-1 win.

Barrios leads the club with eight goals in his first season in Burgundy, while Rubio is up to five goals and five assists. Captain Jack Price, who assisted Abubakar’s header in Houston, is tied for third in MLS with 12 assists this year and leads the league with eight helpers off set pieces. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough is second in the league with 12 shutouts and his 76.56 save percentage is the highest among goalkeepers with at least 20 appearances.

Colorado is coming off a 1-0 loss against the Supporters’ Shield-winning New England Revolution. Sunday’s match is the last in a seven-game month of October and closes out a stretch of five games in 16 days for the Rapids; they are 2-3-1 this month.

Houston enters the match in 11th in the West and mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Dynamo FC has lost two straight—3-0 to LA Galaxy and 2-1 in Austin—but defeated Seattle Sounders FC, 2-1, on Oct. 16. Fafa Picault, who scored Colorado’s only goal conceded off a penalty of the season on Aug. 14, leads Houston with 11 goals and five assists. Maxi Urruti is second with seven goals and four assists.

Dynamo midfielder Matias Vera will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation on Sunday.

“It’s going to be hard because you don’t know what you’re going to get,” Rapids forward Dominique Badji said. “Houston is a very unpredictable team. Especially a team that’s not in the playoffs, you don’t know what they’re going to bring, the lineups they’re going to play. But they’re going to work hard, I can guarantee that. Like I said, a lot of players are playing for a lot more than a playoff spot. It’s going to be good. Ultimately, if we focus on us, we’ll get three points and head into next weekend’s game.”

After Sunday’s match, the Rapids will have a full week to prepare for their Decision Day clash against Los Angeles FC at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m. MT.

News & Notes 

  • A Rapids win on Sunday would mark the first time they win in the same stadium as visitors twice in the same year since 2013, when they defeated Chivas USA and LA Galaxy at Home Depot Center/StubHub Center.  
  • GK William Yarbrough made six saves on Wednesday to raise his total to 99 this season, fourth-most in MLS. His 12 clean sheets are second-most in MLS, while his 76.56 save percentage is the highest in the league among goalkeepers with at least 20 appearances.  
  • F Michael Barrios’ next goal will be the 40th and his next assist will be the 50th of his career. Barrios has six goals and 10 assists, both his highest against any MLS opponent, in 17 career meetings against Houston. He assisted on Colorado’s first two goals in the first meeting on May 15 and scored the game-winner on Aug. 14 in Texas. 
  • F Dominique Badji has four goals and five assists, his highest combined total against any MLS opponent, in 11 career matches against Houston. He posted a career-high three assists in a 3-1 win over Dynamo FC in Colorado in July 2017.  
  • F Diego Rubio has six goals in 11 career meetings against Houston, his highest total against any MLS opponent. He scored the game-winning goal against Dynamo FC on May 15 and assisted F Michael Barrios’ winner on Aug 14 at PNC Stadium. 
  • M Cole Bassett has a goal and two assists in five career meetings against Houston, including a goal and an assist in the two matches this season. 
  • F Braian Galván has one goal in 90 minutes across two appearances against Dynamo FC. He scored his most recent goal in the 3-1 win in Texas on Aug. 14. 
  • M Mark-Anthony Kaye has a goal and two assists in seven career matches against Houston.  
  • D Lalas Abubakar has two goals in his last three games against Houston. 
  • D Auston Trusty is fifth in MLS with 56 interceptions. His next appearance will be his 40th with the club.  
  • F Andre Shinyashiki’s next start will be the 50th of his MLS career. It would be his 19th of the season, setting a new career high, while tying a career-best 31 appearances.  
  • D Danny Wilson’s next appearance will be his 80th with Colorado in MLS.  
  • F Jonathan Lewis’ next appearance will be his 60th with Colorado. His next goal will be his sixth of the season and set a new career high.  
  • M Nico Mezquida’s next start will be his 20th with the club.  
  • M Collen Warner played 24 games for Houston in 2016.