The Vancouver Whitecaps continue on with the third of their three-game road trip as they pay a visit to the Colorado Rapids.
Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
When: Friday, May 5th at 7 pm PST
How: TSN1 & TSN4 (TV), TSN 1040 (Radio)
The Rapids have never been gracious hosts to the ‘Caps, having won 7 of 8 matches. But with Colorado currently trending downward and Vancouver on the uptick, this may prove to be the best time for the blue and white to score a win in Commerce City.
Though the Rapids started the season with a win against New England, they’ve since gone 0-5-1, with the only result being a draw at home to expansion side Minnesota United FC.
Vancouver and Colorado met three times in 2016, where the teams drew twice in Vancouver (2-2 and 3-3), while Colorado won their only match at home, 1-1.
Though the Colorado victory last year was arguably one-sided in favor of the victors, the two matches in Vancouver proved to be far more captivating. In each match, both teams were forced to equalize late into injury time, despite having been reduced to ten men prior to their respective comebacks.
Who’s Worth Watching?
Road games to Colorado have never been kind to the Whitecaps (1 win and 5 goals from 8 total away matches). Since goal scoring at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park has always been troublesome, my eyes will be on the in form Cristian Techera, to see if he can keep up his solid play and build upon the game-winning goal he netted against Montreal last week.
But from a nostalgic standpoint, let’s include Jordan Harvey as well, as he’ll be making his 250th MLS appearance in his next match.
Originally, I was going to name Shkelzen Gashi as the man to watch for the Rapids, considering he can do things like this. And this. I witnessed that second goal in person, what turned out to be the 2016 MLS Goal of the Year, and it silenced the entire stadium. However, 2017 has not been as fruitful for Gashi, as he’s produced no goals inside of 158 minutes from four matches total, with two starts.
Instead, let’s keep an eye on Tim Howard, who’s returning from a three-match ban after, um, “cussing” at/with some Sporting Kansas City fans. For anyone curious as to what may or may not have been said, here’s a NSFW link for you. Nevertheless, Howard is a keeper who can steal a match for his team, or come very, very close, as the “Secretary of Defense” proved at the last World Cup.
Considering the Whitecaps’ lengthy list of injured players, you could just as easily ask, “Who’s not injured?”: Marco Bustos, Christian Dean, David Edgar, Kyle Greig, Erik Hurtado, Brett Levis, Cole Seiler, and Yordy Reyna are all “out” as per the current MLS Injury report, while both Brek Shea and Reyna have both been training recently in some capacity.
Comparatively, the injury sheet for Colorado is far smaller, as Axel Sjöberg (hamstring) and Bismark Adjei-Boateng (back) are definitely out, while forward Caleb Calvert (concussion) will most likely be unavailable. Though their casualties are far fewer than that of the Whitecaps, the absence of Sjöberg, a 2016 member of the MLS Best XI and second runner-up for Defender of the Year, will surely continue to be a difficult burden for the Rapids to overcome.
Who’s Going to Win?
Given the match history, the difficulty of travel, and playing at altitude in and around Denver, it would be easy to assign the Whitecaps a big ol’ L for Friday; however, that’s no longer the case when considering how both teams have performed as of late.
Nevertheless, my gut tells me the Whitecaps will continue with the strong play, but Howard will prove to be the difference-maker in holding the match to a 1-1 draw.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Ousted; S. Williams, Waston, Parker, Harvey; Laba; Techera, Jacobson, Tchani, Bolaños; Montero.
Colorado Rapids: Howard; Miller, Burling, Watts, M. Williams; Azira, Powers; Hairston, Saeid, Badji; Doyle.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez; AR1: Jeffrey Hosking; AR2 Andrew Bigelow; 4th: Younes Marrakchi.