In the nearly two months since their last match with the Colorado Rapids, the Vancouver Whitecaps have been on a bit of rise. Nothing tremendously groundbreaking, mind you, but there’s been a lot of positives since the jump off win on May 3rd in Commerce City.
Despite the piling up of injuries suffered by a number of regular starters, Hwang in-beom being exhausted by going full bore for club (Daejeon Citizen FC prior to Vancouver) and country, and the perpetual dilemma that is offensive output, the Whitecaps have been on a decent run since the direness that opened the season.
Inclusive of the match in Colorado, the club has gone 3-1-3 with eight goals conceded. Mind you, they’ve only netted ten goals for, but the important thing is that results are being earned, particularly in difficult away settings to Kansas City and New York Red Bulls.
That said, one of the teams that’s has been hotter than the Whitecaps since the start of May? The Colorado Rapids.
Following the loss to Vancouver, the Rapids have gone 4-1-1, with the lone loss to Real Salt Lake coming at the start of this resurgence, earning results quality results away to the LA Galaxy and Philadelphia, while batting away Columbus, Cincinnati, and Minnesota.
After an initial hiccup, it’s clear that the club is thriving under new coach Conor Casey, and to get further insight into this burgundy renaissance, Abbie Lang at Burgundy Wave was again kind of to answer our Three Questions for Know The Enemy.
Is there a demonstrable difference you see in the team and its performances since Conor Casey took over for the dismissed Anthony Hudson?
“There definitely is in that they’ve come together, players are in more natural positions, and they’ve started winning. I recently wrote about the three big reasons for the mid-season turnaround since Hudson left and it amounts to: the coaching change, getting that first win, and new players. Casey is a club legend and has been with the club as an assistant coach so the guys are familiar with him and his style. He is very offensive-minded and wants to be aggressive, which is the plan the FO has been hoping to put in place.
The first win was huge for their confidence and bringing in CB Lalas Abubakar (on loan from the Crew) to help lock down the defense and Jonathan Lewis (from NYCYFC) made a difference with the offense. The Rapids lost their first two games after Hudson left, but are on a five-game unbeaten streak (with four wins) since then and stopped leaking goals—it’s been great.”
Despite the bounce back from such a difficult start to the season, are there any lingering weaknesses in the club that still to be resolved?
“The defense was the biggest issue for the Rapids in the beginning of the season and since Abubakar came, they haven’t let in more than one goal when he’s on the pitch. We still have a lack of experience at left back and every once in a while little mistakes happen, but for the most part, things are looking good for now.
The big things these days is finding out who the next head coach will be. Casey was never supposed to be the guy, but it’s also hard to give him the boot when things are going as well as they are, so we’ll see.”
Kei Kamara was recently highlighted at mlssoccer.com as the team’s top performer through the first half of the season. In contrast, who would you say needs to step up it up to get the Rapids into the playoffs?
“I’d like to see Diego Rubio step it up. He’s had a couple of good games, but he’s not having the impact many of us had hoped for. That being said, just about everyone has really stepped up their game lately - Sam Nicholson is back in form, Nicolas Mezquida has been stellar off the bench, and just about everyone is playing well and in high spirits.”
Thanks again, Abbie! Good luck in the match on Saturday!*
*...but not really.