Two goals from the returning Kevin Doyle handed the Colorado Rapids a first win over San Jose Earthquakes in 15 attempts, and sent them to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.
Doyle, who had not played since injuring his ankle at FC Dallas on September 10, and had not scored since the 2-2 tie at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 9, scored a contender for MLS Goal of the Week for his first, before smashing a spot kick down the middle for his second.
“Kevin’s been out for a while,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni said postgame. “Every game, there’s a lot on the line and I thought he grew in to the game. I thought he had a very good first half in a position that he might not be so familiar with. I think he did a fantastic job on the defensive side of the ball. Picked up some loose balls and really drove at the defense. I think his performance is the benchmark of what we need moving forward.”
Either side of Doyle’s brace came a controversial penalty, which Chris Wondolowski squeezed under the body of Tim Howard, who was making his 100th MLS appearance. The penalty awarded to the Rapids also raised a few eyebrows. The difference between the two teams, though, was the world-class diving header from Doyle just before the interval, following a perfectly-weighted cross from Marc Burch.
The Rapids saw out some nervy final minutes, with defeat ending the Quakes’ slim chances of making the playoffs. For the Rapids, already assured of at least second place in the Western Conference, they still control their own destiny.
“We just want to continue, we want to keep it going and keep that unbeaten record all season at home which is unbelievable,” Doyle said after the victory. “I’ve never done that, I don’t know if any of the lads have ever done that. It’s a fantastic record if we can do that, one more home game. In Ireland and Europe, it’s all about winning the league. We’d be so proud if we could win the league. We’re in the playoffs so we’ll enjoy the last few games and try to win the Supporters’ Shield. It’s something you won’t get many times in your career.”
Pablo Mastroeni’s battle-hardened side had chances to make for a more comfortable margin of victory. Quakes keeper David Bingham was at full stretch to prevent a Doyle hat-trick. Substitute Caleb Calvert was then denied his first MLS goal by a superb goal-line clearance off the head of former Rapids defender Marvell Wynne, while Sébastien Le Toux had a heavy first touch and saw the ball whipped off his foot when about to unleash from close range.
Victory took the Rapids to 57 points, one clear of FC Dallas, with two games remaining. Game 33 is at Portland Timbers on Sunday (ESPN – 3:00 p.m. MT).