The Colorado Rapids played the second match of their current four-game road trip away at Houston, facing a Dynamo team playing for the first time under interim head coach Davy Arnaud. For the first 70 minutes, the hosts looked largely outmatched. Rapids forward Diego Rubio tallied a brace with goals in the 7th and 38th minutes. But the Dynamo earned a draw thanks to Mauro Manotas matching Rubio’s effort with two late goals of his own in the 74th and 79th minutes. Colorado and Houston split the points in a 2-2 draw.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s draw with Houston:
Having started the season with one goal in 10 starts, valid questions surrounded Rubio and whether he could transition from the super sub that tore up the league in 2018 to a legitimate starter and consistent scoring threat in Major League Soccer.
But Rubio has fired back on critics and opponents with a reverse in form during his last 10 starts, where he’s tallied eight goals and three assists. His current form of 0.86 goals scored per 90 minutes over those past 10 appearances is more on par with his 2018 performance, when he was one of the top performers in the league averaging 0.92 goals scored per 90 minutes.
“I am a player who is here to help the team in everything necessary,” Rubio told reporters in Spanish during a postgame interview. “If you have to score goals, give assists, defend, I will do it. On a personal level, I want to finish with double digits in the number of goals, but above all, help win.”
Rubio has been linked to a possible transfer to Liga MX side Cruz Azul, but addressed the reports Saturday saying, “I am very happy here, they treat me very well. They give me all the love. I am not the one who decides where I will be in the future. That is decided by other people. For now, I am very happy.”
Midfielder Jack Price returned for the Rapids on Saturday following his suspension for yellow card accumulation, and the team received a bit of the good and the bad from the Englishman.
The good? Colorado got back its set-piece delivery man and Price delivered four corners during the match. His presence in the midfield also allowed for teammate Kellyn Acosta to play a more free-flowing role, connecting the ball to the attack.
The bad? It only took 25 minutes for Price to start accumulating yellow cards, booked for unsporting behavior by referee Ismail Elfath. Additionally, Price’s defensive backtracking and marking left much to be desired on both goals by Manotas.
With eight regular season matches remaining and Colorado still 10 points short of the playoff line, it’s a pretty safe assumption that it will be another year sans playoffs for the Rapids.
Unfortunately for them, the nine-game winless streak that led to former head coach Anthony Hudson’s firing is proving to be too big a hole to overcome, despite the fact that Colorado has begun to consistently produce points under interim head coach Conor Casey.
Nonetheless, fans will still have reason to watch the remaining games. As proven in Saturday night’s four-goal, back-and-forth affair, the Rapids are finally playing an attractive and entertaining brand of football under Casey.
As emphasized by Rapids GM and vice president of operations Padraig Smith, it will also be an interesting offseason for Colorado, which has made moves to create budget for the 2020 campaign.