What happens when the only team in the West without a road win takes on the only team in the entire league without a home win? Well, we’re going to find out when the Whitecaps head to Denver to take on the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening!
This match comes after the ‘Caps had a week and half off, a much-needed break after a staggeringly busy stretch of play in May and the beginning of June. After a reasonably long homestand it’s now three-straight road matches for a famously poor on the road ‘Caps side, and this first one clearly sticks out as the most winnable.
They’ll have to do it with a shorthanded midfield though, as Julian Gressel and Pedro Vite are away on international duty, and Russell Teibert hasn’t made the trip due to injury, joining Alessandro Schöpf on the sidelines. The good news is that Ali Ahmed is back after missing the last month, and the ‘Caps have called up WFC 2 captain Giovanni Aguilar to the first team for some extra cover.
The lack of the team’s regular midfielders could lead to Vanni Sartini again using the 3-4-3 system deployed against Cincinnati last time out with Andrés Cubas and Sebastian Berhalter in the middle. The international absences for these next couple matches at least could also potentially give J.C. Ngando the chance to add to his 33 minutes played in MLS this season.
Javain Brown is also away for Gold Cup preparations which means Mathias Laborda should draw in at either right-back or as a third centre-back next to Ranko Veselinović and Tristan Blackmon. The match against Cincinnati saw both Luis Martins and Ryan Raposo start at wingback, and with Ahmed really the only other potential wingback available for selection it’s likely that at least one of them will start once again on Wednesday night.
Looking at the visitors, the Rapids are currently mired in the West’s basement, one of just three teams in MLS averaging under 1 PPG. They have just a single point from their last seven matches, and have picked up red cards in each of their last two outings. In short, it’s been dire.
This is the second meeting between these two teams this year. The first was a 0-0 draw at BC Place back in April. The ‘Caps failed to convert on a number of chances that night and required some heroics in the form of a late Yohei Takaoka penalty save in order to preserve a point. The ‘Caps have actually been quite good at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in recent years, only losing once in their last six trips to the stadium.
The Whitecaps are crying out for a strong result on the road, and with now three in a row away from BC Place they will fall out of the playoff picture at least temporarily if they’re not able to get it done. With more daunting opponents in LAFC and SKC on the horizon, a win over Colorado feels like a must-have.