Preview: Caps Hoping to Kick-Start Attack Against Rapids

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

Thanks to the footballing gods for the distraction this week in the form of the dental damnation that is Luis Suarez. Otherwise, I'd have dwelled far too much on the E. coli-laden match that Vancouver Whitecaps fans had to endure on Wednesday.

Coach Carl Robinson admitted it was a "bad" day at the office. But most would argue that Wednesday's 0-0 draw with the depleted Montreal Impact, one of Major League Soccer's poorest sides, was Vancouver's worst showing of the season, and certainly one of the blue-and-white's worst home outings in years.

The fact that it all transpired against the backdrop of the most entertaining World Cup in decades made it all the worse. So, let's just look ahead, and for now write Wednesday off as an aberration of the highest order.

Vancouver now heads out on the road to take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening. Perhaps the quick turnaround from BC Place to Dick's Sporting Goods Park will do the Caps good - allowing them the opportunity to quickly make up for the points they let slip from their hands just three days prior.

On form, Vancouver (5W-2L-7D) gets the nod, as they're in the midst of a franchise record eight-game undefeated streak that dates back to a mid-April draw with the LA Galaxy. Colorado, on the other hand, haven't played since June 7, when they fell 3-2 to FC Dallas in Frisco.

But history hasn't been kind to the Caps, as they've usually found themselves up a creek against the Rapids - having lost to them five times in the nine matches they've played in MLS. The Caps have drawn once, and won only three. The two teams last met at BC Place April 5, when Vancouver lost 2-1 in a match that featured the now-infamous Mathias Laba hand-to-ball incident, reducing the Caps to 10 men.

On Wednesday, Vancouver experimented rather unsuccessfully with the speed-demon trio on the attack, with Erik Hurtado, Darren Mattocks, and Kekutah Manneh all on the pitch at the same time. In the process, they lost the plot somewhat in taking Pedro Morales out of the game by bypassing him with the long ball. Don't look for that to happen again in Colorado. I expect we'll see a return to what's worked for the club thus far - quick and creative build-up from the midfield, and that means Morales, more Morales, and in case you missed it, Morales. Sebastian Fernandez should draw into the starting XI, as Manneh again failed to get the job done in a starter role.

The Rapids are expecting both Edson Buddle (groin) and Vincent Sanchez (knee) to be available for selection again this weekend. Buddle hasn't played in a month, and Sanchez has been out since early May with his injury. That's good news for Colorado, but the rust factor might well play a part in their possible return to action Saturday. Of course, there's the ever-speedy Deshorn Brown and Rapids' assists leader Dillon Powers (4) to worry about as well.

Between them, Sanchez (5 goals in five matches played), and Brown (five goals and 48 shots, 4th in MLS) have combined for almost half of the Rapids' goals this season. Containing Brown, and disrupting Powers with tight marking from Gershon Koffie and Mathias Laba in the defensive midfield will be top priorities for Vancouver.

Colorado likes to attack from the right side, so Vancouver LB Jordan Harvey looks to have a busy evening. He'll likely be facing Powers and at times fleet-footed RB Marvel Wynne, who was also a track athlete during his time at UCLA.

Vancouver also has to respect the fact that the Rapids have scored a full third of their 21 goals off set pieces this season. Defending corners are still somewhat of an adventure for Vancouver, and with it possible that neither Steven Beitashour nor Andy O'Brien are good to go on the weekend, it'll be time to get the organizational house in order on the back line. On the plus side, GK David Ousted is coming off a very strong performance yet again, for the Caps.

Following a match in which Vancouver had no primary, secondary, or even tertiary scoring to boast of, it's imperative that the Caps get back to what they do best: counter quickly and with creativity, and with the ball on the ground. The Caps aren't good at the long ball, and don't win a substantial number of balls in the air. Playing kick and chase only negates their biggest asset in Morales, and generally only results in a change of possession.

Vancouver has played much better on the road than they have in past years, yet winning hasn't come easy in Commerce City.

Prediction: 1-1

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