First order of business in today’s keys to the games is a congratulations to the players and staff, the club and, of course, you the fans. It has at times been an abysmal year and at times a euphoric year. But we’re all here with a spot in the playoffs confirmed and one more regular season match to go. You can’t be a perennial playoff team without making it that first time.
For the Houston Dynamo, it’s been a difficult season inside a difficult year. They have just four wins in 22 matches played up to this point. They’ve scored 29 goals in 22 games. Compare that to the Rapids who have scored 30 goals in 17 matches and you begin to see what’s been so troubling for them.
This is the first season for head coach and American soccer legend Tab Ramos. If you wear orange, your hope is that the results this year have come from a new coach implementing his preferred style and trying to do so against the backdrop of a global pandemic. I’m not sure I hold any of these results against him or his squad, because through it all, there have been bright spots.
He’s going to appear in my keys below but Darwin Quintero has played with a Best XI clip and is currently tied for the league lead with 10 assists. Not bad, all things considered. And on top of that, there’s been continued promise from the Homegrown, Memo Rodriguez with his five goals and three assists. Their 2020 season may be over but they do have some pieces to build around for 2021 and who can’t be ignored in this season finale.
1. Play with speed.
The Rapids are one of the fastest teams in MLS. And they’re fast at all levels, not just the front three. The Houston Dynamo regularly play five players aged 30 and above. Two of those are aged 36 and older. This isn’t to say you hit the age of 30 and gravity works harder against you, but time is undefeated. The Rapids are young, athletic and fast. If they dominate possession and force Houston to chase the ball from one side to the other, they can start to open up gaps that can be exploited with their speed.
2. Corral Quintero.
I mentioned him above and made note of his quality. Darwin Quintero has been one of the best players in MLS since he arrived, originally with Minnesota United FC. If anything, he’s taken his play to a new level with the Dynamo. He’s their best player and he pulls all the strings offensively. He can influence and win games all by himself if he’s not kept in check. Typically playing on the left side, it’ll be up to Keegan Rosenberry to continue his outstanding 2020 campaign.
3. Get sharp, stay sharp.
We know the Rapids are in the playoffs and they’ll be going on the road for their first match. We also know there’s a FIFA international break between Decision Day and the first round of the tournament. The Rapids can rise all the way to fifth in the Western Conference standings, and they can also use these 90 minutes to stay as sharp as possible before the break and before they hit the road. Get out with three points, get out healthy and get another full match under your belts. This is the recipe for a perfect weekend in the Lone Star State.