Photo by USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
With just three points separating the two teams entering Saturday’s matchup at Toyota Stadium, the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas had plenty to play for. However, it didn’t take long for the hosts to distance themselves from the opposition due to a pair of quick finishes.
FC Dallas knocked off the visiting Rapids by a 3-1 scoreline, with a pair of goals inside the first 10 minutes proving to be enough to power the hosts to a crucial three points.
The hosts opened the scoring early by way of defender Matt Hedges, who took advantage of some shoddy Rapids defense to give the hosts the lead from close range.
Following an ninth-minute FC Dallas corner, the visitors failed to properly clear the ball away, allowing midfielder Michel to get a second chance at providing a cross towards the Rapids’ net. Michel’s second ball found the head of defender Walker Zimmerman, who was left completely unmarked by the Rapids’ defense.
Zimmerman’s header banged right into Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin, but Hedges was left nearly as open as his backline partner. The defender calmly tapped home into the wide open net to give the hosts the early 1-0 lead.
Just moments later, the Rapids suffered from yet another lapse in judgement, as defender Marvell Wynne’s ill-advised slide tackle caught FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele just inside the box, forcing the referee to point to the spot.
Michel stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick and slammed the ball to Irwin’s right side to double the hosts’ advantage.
Despite being down 2-0, the Rapids proved to be the dominant side for the rest of the half, with defender Drew Moor seeing his 14th minute response cleared off the line by goalscorer Michel.
The Rapids opened the second half with yet another chance to equalize, but, once again, an FC Dallas goalscorer was there to clear the ball at the last minute. Following a free kick in the 52nd minute, Rapids midfielder Jose Mari unleashed a shot directed at the FC Dallas net, only to find a waiting Hedges to make the last-ditch clearance.
The hosts removed all doubt by scoring their third just three minutes later, as the Rapids were once again punished for their inability to clear their lines.
This time it was midfielder Fabian Castillo, who swooped in on the backpost to take advantage of a failed Mark Burch clearance for FC Dallas’ third score of the night.
Michel’s cross went straight into the center of the Rapids’ box into the path of Burch, whose clearance deflected and trickled towards a surging Castillo on the backpost. Castillo finished his chance, putting the game out of distance for the Rapids.
The Rapids netted a consolation penalty in the 85th minute when Gabriel Torres was bumped down in the box by Je-Vaughn Watson. Torres finished his own chance, but, by that point, it proved little consolation as the contest was all but over.
With the victory, FC Dallas sees their lead over the Rapids increase to six points with a trip to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes coming up next week. Meanwhile, the Rapids will look to bounce back from their third-straight loss when they take on D.C. United next Sunday.