It took nearly three hours to determine whether the Fifth Round matchup between the Colorado
Rapids and the Houston Dynamo could begin. Torrential downpours in the late Houston
afternoon threw the match into jeopardy and grounds crew put in significant work to dissipate
several large pools of water on the pitch. In the end, the referees gave their approval and the
match kicked off at a yawninducing 10:18 p.m. local time.
In the end, a first half tally from Mauro Manotas and a strong performance in goal by Joe Willis led the Dynamo to a 1-0 win to send Houston to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.
The waterlogged field played a bit slower than either team would have liked but both clubs combined for 18 shots in the first half. The Dynamo controlled the game early on, using the crafty combination play of Manotas and Alex Monteiro to find gaps in the Colorado defense. Eventually, the Rapids took control of the game in the first half, sacrificing the counter-attack style that was proving ineffective in the face of goal.
As both teams began to put reliance on their speed up top, the Dynamo would create better scoring opportunities. A Leonel Miranda cross in the 14th minute would trickle through the box to Alex who struggled to find the touch to beat Colorado goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
Alex was an immense presence in the first half for Houston, delivering a skillfull ball to the box in the 23rd minute where a waiting Chandler Hoffman couldn’t manage to swing the ball into the net after a beautiful turn.
As the match creeped toward the half-hour mark, physicality from both sides began to dictate the flow of the game. When the ball wasn’t whistled dead, it was often the quick, shuffling feet of Colorado midfielder Charles Eloundou that carried the attack into the final third for the Rapids.
Dynamo right back Kofi Sarkodie struggled to contain Eloundou’s speed but no Colorado player could take advantage as the entire night was a battle to put the ball on frame.
The match’s only goal was delivered by Manotas, the 19-year-old Colombian who was making his first-ever start for the club. Manotas netted his first career goal for the Dynamo off a curling Nathan Sturgis assist in the 43rd minute.
Two minutes later, Colorado would have perhaps their best opportunity of the night as fullback Marlon Hairston shrugged off Dynamo defenders in the box and slotted the ball between keeper Joe Willis’ legs. Unfortunately for the Rapids, the ball would take a deflection off the post to end the half.
The final 45 minutes were certainly chippy between both teams but it was Colorado, again, who could not capitalize on the space given by the Houston defense.
In the 51st minute, Rapids midfielder Jared Watts would clack a header off the crossbar and back into play. His second chance would go wide and Colorado’s ensuing frustration would make it difficult to focus on keeping their shots on goal.
The 80th minute substitution of Marcelo Sarvas for Charles Eloundou would all but finish Colorado’s night as the Dynamo defenders finally had a chance to breathe while not fending off the pace of Eloundou.
In those final ten minutes, fatigue sat in for both teams as the clock was well past midnight. MacMath, who is on loan from the Philadelphia Union, had terrific saves throughout the match, keeping the Rapids in contention, but it was not enough. Though the Dynamo would face a nervy run or two from Colorado, they would ultimately keep them at bay for a 1-0 victory and an advancement into the Open Cup Quarterfinals.
Combined with their Fourth Round win over the Austin Aztex, the Dynamo have put together back-to-back tournament wins for the first time since 2009. For the Rapids, it continues a poor run of form that began after 1999 when they fell to the Rochester Raging Rhinos in the Final. Tuesday’s loss marks the 12th year in a row that the Rapids have failed to win multiple games in a single tournament.
In the next round, Houston will travel to play the winner of Wednesday’s FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City match.
FULL MATCH REPLAY: COLORADO RAPIDS AT HOUSTON DYNAMO