Jul 14, 2018; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Giles Barnes (7) following the draw to the Houston Dynamo at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Immovable object or (not so) unstoppable force? That was the overall theme Saturday night for the Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids, which battled to a 0-0 draw, despite combining for 18 shots and three on-target efforts apiece.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s draw with Houston:
At first glance, the release of Colorado’s second leading scorer, Joe Mason, in exchange for Giles Barnes – a player who had become a journeyman in MLS – was a headscratcher.
But Saturday night showed the 29-year-old Jamaican international still has something to offer. In 52 minutes of action, he produced two shots on goal and looked threatening on the counterattack, setting up opportunities for Dominique Badji.
For Anthony Hudson, who typically shows restraint in bringing new players into the starting XI, giving Barnes the start was a “no brainer.”
“We were confident that he’s had a preseason,” Hudson said of Barnes’ fitness. “He played a couple of games in preseason. Given the situation that we’re in, we’ve needed a lift and a presence higher up the pitch. In the end [starting Barnes] was an easy decision for me.”
Colorado gave up four goals in the two games leading to Saturday’s match, including two in a 2-1 loss to Seattle on the Fourth of July – which is perennially considered one of the most important games of the season for the club. The team’s lack of defensive fortitude was particularly frustrating on the road, conceding another two goals despite bunkering in a 5-4-1 that Hudson has rolled out in recent road matches.
While there were no goals for the home side Saturday, the clean sheet against Houston was a breath of fresh air. The shutout was just Colorado’s fourth in 19 games played this season. The three-man backline of Kortne Ford, Axel Sjoberg and Tommy Smith was up to the task.
“It’s great to have us three back there,” said Ford. “Axel is a big man. He can win a lot of headers and shut plays down for us. Tommy is a great leader setting the line. Playing those last few games with them, the chemistry is coming together and we have to build off of it tonight and keep pushing forward.”
Fortress of Redemption
With just 16 points through 19 games, playoffs are still a pipe dream for the 2018 Colorado Rapids. But the draw at home stopped the bleeding for a team that had lost two in a row. For the Rapids to have any shot at the playoffs, whether it be this season or in future seasons, the team needs to return to the tried and true MLS formula of defending the home ground.
All of Colorado’s four wins this season have come at home, but it hasn’t been nearly enough, given the 11 games played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park thus far.
“We’re all disappointed we couldn’t get three points at home,” said Sjoberg. “We’re obviously happy not giving away a goal but at home we want to get three points and we weren’t quite sharp enough in the final third with the final pass, the final shots. It was a frustrating night but the effort was there.”
The big Swede’s words were a true and honest assessment of how important home games are not just for teams around MLS, but Colorado, particularly.