The sun was shining on a nearly cloudless, 65-degree day on Saturday at Kino North Stadium, where the Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids put on a show in the final MLS preseason Desert Showcase match.
Soccer fans in Tucson got to enjoy an intensely battled match as the Houston Dynamo took the 3-2 win in the final seconds of stoppage time.
This was Houston’s second preseason friendly match in Tucson. They played to a 1-1 score on Feb. 2 against Real Salt Lake in match not open to the public.
“Overall, I think both groups did a decent job,” Houston coach Paulo Nagamura said. “I think we’re progressing from our preseason. It was a step forward from the last game we had against Real Salt Lake, so we just gotta keep improving and implementing the things we want to within the team.”
Nagamura believed his team could have started off a little bit faster, but played a good match overall in their second time on the pitch this year.
“We had to adjust a couple of things because Colorado plays three in the back,” Nagamura said. “Once we figured that out, especially throughout the first part of the first half, we were more in the game. I think we started a little slow, but once we figured that out, we were able to play the game we like to play.”
Houston will play another preseason match Tuesday at PNC Stadium in Houston. They will play USL League One team El Paso Locomotive.
The Rapids’ match with Houston is their third at Kino North stadium.
“The whole trip has been really good for us,” Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. “The accommodations are great. This is a place that’s really great for us for preseason. We really enjoy coming here. I felt like we made a lot of progress in a lot of areas.”
Colorado played Sporting Kansas City to a 0-0 draw last Saturday and scrimmaged the Seattle Sounders in two 75-minute matches Tuesday.
Fraser held high praise for how his team executed on defense last week, but thought that the decision making on offense could have been better.
This week, he felt his team did much better in this match with Houston but still sees room for improvement.
“We were really good against Seattle, tonight we were really good for about 20 minutes,” Fraser said. “We have made some progress, we have to continue the progress on our concentration as we get tired. We definitely felt like we made progress at our attacking end.”
Colorado’s next friendly preseason match will be Friday when they play Orlando City SC at TBC USA Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Rapids will then head to Guatemala to play Comunicaciones FC in the CONCACAF Champions League on Feb 17.
The USL League One will stage three preseason matches at Kino North starting Feb. 16 when Louisville City plays El Paso. Oakland plays Tulsa on Feb. 20 and FC Tucson will host Oakland on Feb. 26.
FC Tucson starts its 2022 season April 2 at the Richmond Kickers. The home opener at Kino North is April 16 against Forward Madison.
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Nathaniel Martinez is an aspiring sports journalist who is a Sahuaro High School graduate and Pima Community College student. He has written for the Aztec Press at Pima. While at Sahuaro, he played football for longtime coach Scott McKee and he wrestled for the Cougars.