Holden, who had played just 78 minutes this season prior to Houston's game with Colorado Thursday, scored the winning goal just seconds after replacing Chris Wondolowski as Houston downed Colorado, 2-1, for its second straight victory despite missing five players because of national-team duty or injury.
Wondolowski, who led the MLS reserve league last year with 13 goals, rewarded Coach Dominic Kinnear for getting the start in Brian Ching's absence by setting up forward partner Joseph Ngwenya's goal in the third minute. Jose Cancela, also starting for the first time this season, tied the game on a penalty kick 10 minutes later.
Despite the early goals, the game seldom opened up but a tense energy permeated the proceedings as the players sweated profusely in 90-degree heat. Zach Wells, replacing the suspended Pat Onstad, recorded just two saves and nearly gave away an equalizer when he dropped a ball before covering it in stoppage time. His two saves came less than a minute apart in the first half on Herculez Gomez and Kyle Beckerman. Rapids goalie Bouna Coundoul logged only three saves, though his flamboyant if not always efficient reactions to crosses added a few exciting moments.
Houston held Gomez to just two shots and by blunting him, it limited opportunities for teammates to penetrate the penalty area. Jacob Peterson scored four goals last season as a rookie playing mostly in midfield; he got a start, as did Conor Casey, who won the penalty kick when Eddie Robinson fouled him. Nicolas Hernandez replaced Peterson in the 71st minute and aside from fouling twice, didn't influence the game.
Rapids forward Roberto Brown had been inadvertently left off Panama's Gold Cup roster despite reporting to the team's camp. An assistant coach was erroneously listed as a forward on the final roster and Brown's name was dropped; the error was corrected but Brown injured an ankle in training Tuesday and returned to Denver Thursday to be further evaluated. He did not dress for this match.
The Scottish-born Holden, who was raised in Houston, played three years at Clemson, spent some time at Sunderland and came back home last year to score one goal in 13 games (three starts). After replacing Wondolowski, he drifted to his favorite spot on the right side and ran onto a prodded ball from another sub, Kelly Gray, and crushed a right-footed blast inside the far post.
Houston (4-5-1) won its second straight, Colorado (4-4-3) lost it second in a row. The Dynamo has dominated this series since moving from San Jose; it beat the Rapids, 3-1, earlier this year in Commerce City and has won four of six regular-season meetings.