Vancouver Whitecaps FC make their maiden visit to rivals Colorado Rapids

Looking to complete a busy week of action in positive fashion, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-9L-8D) make their maiden visit to Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids (5W-5L-9D) in Major League Soccer on Saturday evening.

The Blue and White are in the midst of a very difficult spell, having seen their MLS losing streak extend to three matches after a last-gasp 1-0 home defeat to Columbus Crew on Wednesday night. The visit a Rapids side that have also been having their share of struggles recently, with a midweek draw extending Colorado’s winless streak in the league to four matches.

Saturday’s match between Whitecaps FC and Colorado Rapids from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, kicks off at 6 p.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet One and Bell mobile devices. ‘Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 8 p.m. PT.

WHITECAPS FC

Wednesday’s defeat to Columbus was as painful an experience as one can have in soccer. Tom Soehn’s side showed spirit and determination to put a very disappointing three-match road trip behind them and get back to winning ways on Bell Pitch at Empire Field. Yet, as with so many matches this season, Vancouver’s application and endeavour was not rewarded in goals and maximum points. Instead, the ‘Caps had a penalty saved and a man sent off in the latter stages before the final blow came courtesy of Crew striker Jeff Cunningham, whose historic 90th-minute header saw the Ohio-based outfit steal victory in East Vancouver.

Despite enduring some severe tests to their character in recent weeks, Soehn’s squad will look to translate their midweek performance this weekend in Colorado and earn their first road win as an MLS club. The ‘Caps will look to the same set of players that put in a solid display against Columbus to turn the club’s fortunes around this weekend, as Vancouver are likely to be without captain Jay DeMerit (groin), playmaker Davide Chiumiento (hamstring), and Designated Player Eric Hassli (foot contusion) for Saturday’s match. Winger Shea Salinas will miss the Colorado trip following his red card against Columbus, but new acquisition Jordan Harvey is expected to be available for his new club after joining Whitecaps FC from Philadelphia Union on Thursday.

RAPIDS

After making a bright start to the season as defending MLS Cup champions, Colorado Rapids have suffered a very lean spell since early May. A run of six straight draws was broken by a last-gasp victory at Western Conference rivals Portland Timbers. Yet, that result in Oregon is Colorado’s only win in their last 11 league games, as Gary Smith’s side then lost two matches before drawing their last two games. This included a 1-1 result at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night.

Though results have not been to Colorado’s desire in the past two months, Smith’s side maintain a lot of the quality that led the Rapids to the MLS Cup title last season. Conor Casey leads the club with five goals so far this season, while fellow striker Omar Cummings is known to have caused problems for MLS backlines with his pace and finish in attack. Matt Pickens has become a dependable goalkeeper for the Rapids and is one of three players to have played every minute for Smith’s squad this season. Defender Drew Moor and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz have also played every minute of league action. The Rapids also have two former Toronto FC players in Tyrone Marshall and Marvell Wynne in their squad.

The Rapids are without veteran midfielder Pablo Mastroeni for Saturday’s match, as he is suspended for accumulating five yellow cards this season.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday’s match between Whitecaps FC and Colorado Rapids is the first competitive meeting between these two MLS Western Conference foes. Both clubs did meet in preseason on March 12, with the Rapids earning a 1-0 victory in a closed-door friendly on Bell Pitch at Empire Field. Jamie Smith scored Colorado’s late winner on a cold and wet afternoon in East Vancouver. The ‘Caps and Rapids will also meet in both clubs’ regular season finale at BC Place Stadium on Saturday, October 22.

While this is the first meeting between both clubs, there are several connections between both sets of players. New Whitecaps FC acquisition Harvey and goalkeeper Joe Cannon are former Rapids players, while ‘Caps midfielder Jeb Brovsky and keeper Jay Nolly grew up in the state of Colorado. Meanwhile, three members of the Rapids played against Whitecaps FC in the old United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1). Danny Earls and Scott Palguta faced Vancouver as members of Rochester Rhinos, while striker Macoumba Kandji faced the ‘Caps as a member of Atlanta Silverbacks. Winger Sanna Nyassi became a Rapids player after Colorado exchanged an international roster slot with Whitecaps FC for the former Seattle Sounders FC player following Vancouver’s selection of the talented Gambian in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft.

Prior to this season, Whitecaps FC played 21 matches versus former American Professional Soccer League/A-League club Colorado Foxes. From 1992 to 1997, Vancouver registered an overall record of 10 wins and 11 defeats versus the Foxes, with the ‘Caps claiming a less-than-impressive record of three wins and seven defeats against the Foxes in Denver, Colorado. In fact, Vancouver’s last match in Colorado was a 2-1 defeat to the Foxes in USL-1 on July 13, 1997.

NEXT UP: REAL SALT LAKE

Following Saturday’s trip to Colorado, Whitecaps FC return home for a busy weekend of action, starting with the hosting of MLS Western Conference powerhouse Real Salt Lake on Saturday, July 16. Kickoff from Bell Pitch at Empire Field is set for 1 p.m. PT.

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