Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids – Saturday, September 23, 7:00 Pacific/10:00 Eastern, BC Place – Vancouver BC, Canada.
The Whitecaps keep marching on towards the Western Conference playoffs. A last minute 2-2 draw against Columbus Crew means the Whitecaps remain first in the west one point ahead of Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City and Seattle. With just six games left in the regular season, this will be Vancouver’s last home game before they go on the road to Seattle to face the third-placed Sounders and then travel south to Kansas City to face Sporting.
The next three games, therefore, could be decisive in Vancouver’s hunt for one of the top two spots in the Western Conference. In fact, the game against Colorado Rapids is pretty much a must-win affair. Struggling all season, the Rapids are currently the last place in the Western Conference with just 26 points out of 28 games. Abbie Mood a writer for the SBNation Burgundy Wave homepage, however, is somewhat optimistic that the Rapids can get a result in Vancouver.
Speaking to the Futbolgrad Network Mood explains: “Vancouver is going to be tough to beat at home. I think the advantage is that with the Western Conference rivalries, anything can happen on any day. The Rapids don’t typically score many goals, but we’ve had decent luck in Vancouver in the past. I think it’s going to be a challenging game for the Rapids, but they don’t want to let down the fans, and even though the playoffs aren’t happening, they’re still giving us their best effort.”
The lack of goal scoring could be a problem against a Vancouver side that has the third best goalscoring record in the Western Conference behind Portland and Houston Dynamo. Vancouver have scored 11 goals in their last five matches and adding goal scoring production by their midfield line with Tony Tchani most importantly providing the tying goal against Columbus at literally the last moment of the game.
Another aspect to keep in mind ahead of this game is the fact that Colorado are still looking for a new head coach. Head coach Pablo Mastroeni was fired on August 17, and Steve Cooke has taken over the team in the interim. Under Cooke, Colorado have averaged just 0.67 points per game and have looked mostly ordinary. As Mood has recently outlined in an article for the Burgundy Wave, the Colorado Rapids will narrow down a list of candidates towards the end of the season and then present a new coach after the season has ended in November. According to the Denver Post candidates include Venezuela’s national team coach César Farías, Blackburn Rovers manager Henning Berg, Stanford University coach Jeremy Gunn and Columbus Crew assistant coach Josh Wolff.
Hence, while the Colorado Rapids are looking towards the end of the season that will likely include a major rebuild, Vancouver are continuing their push towards the playoffs. The Whitecaps cannot afford a slip-up and have been focused in recent games. With this in mind, Vancouver will likely collect the three points ahead of what will be two tough away games against Seattle and Kansas.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids – Players to look out for:
Tony Tchani #16 – Vancouver Whitecaps
Tony Tchani is gradually becoming the quiet leader of this Whitecaps’ side. Brought in in a trade for Kakuta Manneh on March 30, from Columbus Crew it was Tchani, who secured a crucial point in the playoff race last Saturday against his former club by scoring the last minute equaliser. Tchani has quickly established himself as the anchor of Vancouver’s 4-3-3 system playing deep to secure the exploits of attacking midfielder Yordy Reyna.
Stefan Aigner #7 – Colorado Rapids
Stefan Aigner wanted to get as far away from Munich as possible following 1860 München’s relegation and the drop to the Regionalliga Bayern this summer. Aigner had always been very upfront about his love of his boyhood club and the problems at 1860 were a big challenge for the attacking midfielder. Aigner, therefore, decided for a new beginning in the United States signing a contract with the Rapids. Visa issues and a long season in Germany meant that Aigner has not made his first-team debut until earlier this month when he came on in a 3-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Since then he has mostly featured from the bench, but Mood is confident that that will change soon. “When he comes on the field, there is a definite shift.”
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids – Match Stats
- Vancouver’s record against Colorado is W6 D4 L9.
- The Whitecaps have, however, a winning record against Colorado: W4 D3 L2.
- Vancouver’s head coach Carl Robinson has a poor record against the Rapids: W3 D3 L5.
- Interim coach Steve Cooke has a point per game average of just 0.67.
Prediction: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids 3-1
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids – Possible Lineups
Ousted – de Jong, Parker, Jacobson, Nerwinski – Ghazal, Tchani – Shea, Reyna, Techera – Montero
Coach: Carl Robinson
Howard – Miller, Ford, Sjöberg, Williams – Azira, Watts, Hairston – Saeid, Gatt, Badji
Coach: Steve Cooke
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.