When: 6:30 p.m. PST, Saturday September 10
Where: Dicks Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado
How to watch: TSN (Canada), ESPN+ (U.S.)
What to Know
It feels like just yesterday the Whitecaps were facing the Rapids at home at BC Place, imposing perhaps their most comprehensive victory this year on a struggling Colorado side. The win vaulted them above the playoff line and basically everything that could go wrong since, has and the playoffs are now but a faint memory.
The match is one the Caps should normally be competitive in. The 2-1 win for Vancouver at home launched a period of pretty dismal form for the Rapids where they eked out draws against meh Houston and DC United teams and got wrecked by Philadelphia (in fairness, so has everyone else) and Nashville.
The Rapids in theory have something to play for — they find themselves one point and one position below the Caps in the Western Conference standings. But like Vancouver, the playoffs are increasingly becoming a mirage.
Diego Rubio remains on paper the Rapids biggest goal scoring threat (12 goals, 5 assists, though none since the last matchup) but it was Jonathan Lewis last time out who created the most danger, attacking Julian Gressel and Javain Brown with some measure of success.
This is a Rapids team that has been decent at creating chances but has had a much harder time finishing them. They also don’t hold much possession in the final third, meaning they are open to letting teams dictate play (as the Caps were able to do at home in August).
Their defense is also pretty middle-of-the-road and has fallen on hard times as of late, getting rocked by superior opponents despite having some decent personnel (Gustavo Vallecilla has been a particular weak point recently).
The question, of course, is whether the Caps can muster any sort of real threat without their two best attacking options. Ryan Gauld will miss out on yellow card accumulation and Lucas Cavallini has seen his four game suspension confirmed for stepping on the head of Alex Muyl.
What exactly the Caps trot out remains to be seen but I could see Tos Ricketts and
Sebastian Berhalter (Update: Not looking good for Berhalter’s fitness for Saturday) entering the lineup at the expense of Gauld and a less creative midfielder. Berhalter hasn’t gotten a real good run out since returning from injury and either he or Pedro Vite, who looked good against the Quakes, could be good candidates to get some more minutes here.
Realistically we’re still going to see a Russell Teibert/Alessandro Schopf midfield but, hey, a guy can dream, right?
Colorado’s bugaboo all season have been individual mistakes that other teams have been able to punish. This was true against Vancouver the first time around — the Caps were pretty adept at making the Rapids pay for some sloppy passes, some mistakes building out of the back and a lack of concentration going forward.
But without Gauld and Cava, the Caps will be forced to rely on increasingly spamming crosses, rather than playing through the middle. If Brian White recaptures his form from the first meeting or if Julian Gressel continues building on his good form, this could work.
If not, the Rapids are effectively in a one-game playoff to stay alive to make the actual playoffs. If there was one match they would show up for and concentrate on, it would be this one.
All-in-all, I’m pessimistic about this one. The Caps have not been all that effective without Gauld this season and I don’t see that changing Saturday night, particularly with their season slipping away.
Maybe I’ll be wrong — that would be the most Caps result, after all.
Andrew: 1-0 Colorado
Caleb: 2-1 Colorado
Luis: 2-0 Colorado
Ian: 2-1 Colorado
Sam: 2-1 Colorado