Well, maybe it's a bit broken now. Defensive lapses in the opening 20 minutes of this game put paid to the Colorado Rapids' recent unbeaten streak. Brian Ching showed his class as he scored twice in the opening seven minutes, the Rapids both times giving him far too much room. A poor clearance from goalkeeper, Preston Burpo, in the opening minutes found its way to onrushing Houston forwards and the defense could not keep up with Ching. Minutes later, from a dangerous free-kick, he had a free header which crashed against the bar and was then bundled in. In between, Conor Casey had knocked one in for the home side via another Terry Cooke cross from a corner and there were shades of last week's crazy game. Houston made it 3-1 with a beautiful shot from Ricardo Clark who had acres of space to curl one in past Burpo. And that was all in the opening 18 minutes. The game was effectively won. Houston had the luxury of missing a penalty early in the second half with a good save from Burpo. Casey was sent off for a second yellow in the 54th and Houston shut up shop. Cooke crashed one against the bar late on and then missed a penalty with the last kick of the match. Lots of frantic pushing forward by the Rapids but Houston were always in control after that crazy first 20 minutes. Very unfortunate.
The Rapids, with Chivas winning and Salt Lake drawing, now face an uphill battle in the final three games. The next two are away in Los Angeles with the Galaxy first next Sunday followed by Chivas. There may be changes in the defense following the laspes last night but, perhaps more importantly, we have major difficulties upfront. With the red card, Casey will miss the LA game as will Omar Cummings, last night's man of the match and a player in very good form. Cummings has been called up for the Jamaica national team for the next two World Cup qualifiers. That means an injured Tom McManus and probably Jacob Peterson upfront, an untried partnership. Maybe the formation will be changed and Christian Gomez may get a chance to be at his creative best and maybe save his career in an attacking midfield position just behind a lone striker? I'll keep you posted.