Hill, Akpan Lead Colorado Past Houston, 2-0
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) – The Colorado Rapids found little satisfaction with a two-game winning streak.
“We played hard and we played well,” Colorado forward Andre Akpan said. “We won our last two games, but we aren’t going to the playoffs.”
Akpan and Kamani Hill scored to help the Rapids beat the playoff-bound Houston Dynamo 2-0 on Saturday night.
Colorado (11-19-4) finished one of the worst campaigns in franchise history with only its second two-game winning streak of the year. The Rapids were 3-5-3 in their last 11 games.
Goalkeeper Steward Ceus needed to make only two saves as he posted his second shutout in his second career MLS start.
“I saw a lot of spirit and a lot more confidence the last two games and that was expressed in the field,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said. “The team played the way wanted, but it came at the end of the year.”
Houston (14-9-11) had already rapped up fifth place in the Eastern Conference and its sixth playoff appearance in seven years. The Dynamo will play Chicago in the wild-card game Wednesday night in Chicago.
Houston rested many of its regulars including its top five goal scorers and starting goalkeeper Tally Hall. Tyler Deric subbed for Hall and made his first career MLS start.
“There was nothing we could do to improve our position or make it worse,” Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. “We gave ourselves a chance to be in the playoffs and now Wednesday is a very important play for us.”
The Rapids had the better of it in the first half and barely missed grabbing a lead in the eighth minute. Drew Moor’s missed the right post from close range.
Hill didn’t miss in getting his fifth goal of the season. Hill walked the ball up past midfield before second a left-footed boot from 25 yards out that got under the outstretched right arm of Deric.
“The shot was more difficult than it looked,” Deric said. “I expected him to take the shot, but I didn’t expect the ball to come in off a deflection.”
The Dynamo had one opportunity in the first half. Forward Cam Weaver’s header in the 19th minute glanced off the top of the cross bar and fell harmlessly into the netting.
Jaimie Castrillon missed a shot from point blank range for Colorado in the 31st minute.
Omar Cummings had several chances to extend Colorado’s lead at the start of the second half. He had a shot blocked by two defenders and then had his weak shot caught by Deric in before the 54th minute.
Deric swatted away a shot by Martin Rivero in the 67th minute.
Akpan came off the bench to score his third goal of the season in the 77th minute. Deric blocked two shots, before Akpan sent a rebound into the back of the net.
Houston applied minimal pressure to Ceus in the final 45 minutes.
“The game is over and it’s time to look forward to Wednesday,” Kinnear said. “Wednesday is going to come upon us pretty quick and it’s going to be very important to us.”
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