Houston Dynamo 2 travel to Denver this weekend for their final road trip of the regular season. Sunday’s game against Colorado Rapids 2 will be the debut of interim head coach Daniel Roberts, who transitions to the role after head coach Kenny Bundy joined the Dynamo first team earlier in the week.
Dynamo 2 earned their 10th shutout of the season last weekend with a 1-0 victory over St. Louis CITY 2 at AVEVA Stadium. Defender Mujeeb Murana scored the lone goal of the match when he rose above the St. Louis CITY 2 defense to power a header into the back of the net past former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki. Forward Beto Avila lifted the ball up from the left flank after the Dynamo regained possession off a free kick to find the Dynamo Academy alum.
Defensively, Andrew Pannenberg finished with five saves against St. Louis and earned his second clean sheet of the season. Micael led the team with 12 clearances and nine interceptions as the Dynamo 2 backline limited St. Louis to zero big chances.
Houston looks to win the series after earning a draw at home on Aug. 14. Houston won the first meeting of the season 2-0 on May 8 at home with goals from Talen Maples and Diego Gonzalez.
The Rapids look to finish strong after failing to qualify for the postseason. The Rapids enter with a 3-3-5 record at home and sit ninth in the Western Conference. They have one victory in their last five games and lost 5-0 in their last outing to Sporting KC II at Mercy Victory Field on Sept. 5.
Dynamo 2 return to AVEVA Stadium on Sept. 18 to host North Texas SC for the final match of the regular season. Additional information about the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro postseason will be announced in the near future.
Here are three key points ahead of Sunday's match:
- DYNAMO 2 BACKLINE DENY TOP CONTENDER: Dynamo 2 recorded their 10th shutout of the season last Saturday and enter the weekend tied for the fewest goals in MLS NEXT Pro this season with 21. At home, the team has only conceded four times in 900 minutes. That’s nearly a goal conceded every two and a half games. Houston will look to carry that momentum into Denver as they face a Rapids squad that has scored the fourth fewest goals in the conference this season. The duo of Micael and Talen Maples has been key to the success of the team in the second half of the season as they have limited teams to just seven big chances in the last six games that featured both players. Offensively, the centerback duo have scored four goals this campaign. The outside back duo of Mujeeb Murana and Isaiah LeFlore combine for five goals and six assists this season.
- ROBERTS TAKES NEW ROLE: Roberts was named the interim head coach on Friday as the team prepares to close the regular season and compete in the MLS NEXT Pro postseason. The former Houston Dynamo Academy U-15 coach has been with the Dynamo since he was a member of the first class of Dynamo Academy players in 2007. The Reading, England native graduated from Clements High School in Sugar Land before playing college soccer at University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Roberts was drafted by the Dynamo in the 2012 MLS Draft and played for the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL from 2012-14.
- TEAMS IN THE WEST PLAY FOR PLAYOFF SEEDING: The playoff landscape for the Western Conference is now set with Houston, Tacoma Defiance, St. Louis CITY 2 and North Texas SC earning a berth to the playoffs. Tacoma enters the weekend with one match left and at the top of the conference with 49 points. St. Louis sits one point behind Tacoma but with two games to play. Houston and North Texas are currently in third and fourth place and have two matches left in the regular season. Both teams will end their inaugural campaign at AVEVA Stadium on Sept. 18 in a match that with potential implications on which team can host a match in the postseason. North Texas is in action tomorrow as they host St. Louis at noon CDT.