Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
2017 MLS Regular Season
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, Colo.
Friday, May 5 | 10 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE in the US, TSN1/4 in Canada
We’re still very early in the season, but it’s beginning to look like do-or-die time for the Colorado Rapids.
After shocking the league by riding an all-time great defense to a second-place finish in the Supporters’ Shield race in 2016, the Rapids have struggled mightily out of the gate. Colorado are tied for last in MLS with just four points in seven games, and are coming off of a miserable April in which they dropped all four of their matches by a combined 8-2 margin.
The defense hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been anywhere near as stingy as it was last year. That’s spelled disaster for the Rapids, who consistently have a razor-thin margin for error due to an anemic attack that’s scored just five goals this year and has been shut out in its last two games.
The struggles have head coach Pablo Mastroeni searching for answers.
“We get into a lot of good areas and then it seems to fizzle out,” he said after Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Orlando. “We’re not brave enough in that last third engaging people, taking people on, looking for combinations. It’s going to be difficult.
“Scoring is risking losing the ball, making a hard run and not getting the ball. It’s a lot of selfless acts that have to take place in order to score. These are some of the things we will focus on. I think we need to be more direct, be more brave and risk losing the ball in a tough spot to actually make a play and threaten the goal.”
Vancouver aren’t having any such problems. The Whitecaps are coming off of a solid 2-1 road win at Montreal on Saturday that saw Andrew Jacobson and Cristian Techera both score fine goals. The win, which followed a solid showing – albeit in a loss – at Portland on April 22, has Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson feeling confident heading into Friday's match, the third leg of Vancouver’s four-game road trip.
“I think last week we played very well against a good Portland team that were in form and we want to try and replicate that performance, and I think we certainly did,” Robinson said on Saturday. “I think some of our football was outstanding, and even though we weren’t behind we maintained our focus, our discipline, and then got back into the game and obviously got the winner with a little bit of magic from [Techera].”
He won’t be able to provide any assistance in the attack, but the Rapids will get a boost from goalkeeper Tim Howard’s return from a three-game suspension on Friday.
Howard should help fill a bit of an on-field leadership void that’s plagued Colorado since veterans Sam Cronin and Marc Burch were sent to Minnesota on March 31. His presence could make a difference to a backline that’s been solid in 2017, but will likely have to start registering more shutouts for the Rapids to earn any significant number of points before a potential attacking addition arrives later this year.
Colorado should also get a boost from being at home on Saturday. Three of the four losses in their current skid came away from Denver, with the one home defeat coming after conceding two late goals in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. The Rapids are unbeaten in their two other home contests this year, defeating New England 1-0 in the season opener on March 4 and drawing Minnesota 2-2 on March 18.
- Suspensions: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Axel Sjoberg (hamstring), M Bismark Adjei-Boateng (back injury)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard – Eric Miller, Bobby Burling, Jared Watts, Mekeil Williams – Micheal Azira, Dillon Powers – Marlon Hairston, Mohammed Saeid, Kevin Doyle – Dominique Badji
Notes: Colorado have only lost once in their last six regular season meetings against Vancouver, and have scored multiple goals in three straight matches against the Whitecaps … In two games against Minnesota, Colorado scored two goals and posted just six shots on target. The rest of the league is averaging 3.3 goals and 5.9 shots on target per game against the Loons.
Entering their April 14 home match against Seattle, things were looking a bit bleak for the Whitecaps. Vancouver were 1-3-1 in their first five matches, and were staring down a tough four-game road trip following their date with the Sounders. A loss to their Cascadia rival, and things could’ve turned ugly quickly for Carl Robinson and Co.
Of course, Vancouver emerged victorious against Seattle, getting a pair of goals from ex-Sounder Fredy Montero to defeat their Pacific Northwest foes 2-1. They followed that match up with a solid performance in a 2-1 loss at Western Conference-leading Portland, then turned some heads with their 2-1 win at Montreal on Saturday.
The victory at the Impact pushed Vancouver above the red line, and gave the ‘Caps two wins in their last three matches. They’ll be confident heading into Friday’s match with the reeling Rapids, and a win would make for a very solid road trip, regardless of what happens next week at Houston.
“We prepared really well, we got a lot of touches on the ball and we approached things the right way in Montreal,” defender Jordan Harvey said on Tuesday. “I think the character in this group, coming from behind in a few games this year so far, is really great and it’s only going to get better with guys coming back from injury and getting more depth, so we’ve just got to approach the Colorado game the same way.”
- Suspensions: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Brett Levis (ACL tear), M Yordy Reyna (foot surgery), D – David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear), F – Erik Hurtado (left foot contusion), M – Brek Shea (left knee sprain), M – Marco Bustos (left hamstring), D – Christian Dean (foot injury)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-1-4-1): David Ousted – Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey – Matias Laba – Cristian Techera, Andrew Jacobson, Tony Tchani, Christian Bolanos – Fredy Montero
Notes: Vancouver have won three of their last five MLS games (3-2-0). They had three wins in their previous 18 MLS matches combined (0-9-6) … Midfielder Andrew Jacobson registered a goal and an assist against Montreal, marking the first time since the start of the 2010 regular season that he’d recorded a goal and assist in the same match.
- Overall: Colorado 9 wins (24 goals), Vancouver 5 wins (21 goals), 3 draws
- At Colorado: Colorado 7 wins (13 goals), Vancouver 1 win (5 goals), 0 draws
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Assistant Referees: Jeffrey Hosking, Andrew Bigelow
Fourth Official: Younes Marrakchi