Whitecaps FC prepare for Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids

'Caps host Colorado at BC Place on Saturday afternoon

Looking to build on an impressive victory on Bell Pitch at BC Place last weekend, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-3L-4D) continue their three-match home stand on Saturday afternoon when they host Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids (6W-6L-1D).

Martin Rennie’s side further enhanced their credentials as a contender for an MLS Cup Playoff spot with a superb performance over Houston Dynamo last Sunday. They now turn their focus to this important all-conference battle with Colorado, with Vancouver looking to close the gap on the frontrunners in the Western Conference standings. The Rapids arrive in Vancouver following a three-week break from MLS action.

Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Colorado Rapids at BC Place kicks off at 4 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus Colorado Rapids can also be seen live on Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT, with a pre-game show starting at 3:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

Well rested and fully focused after an extended break, Whitecaps FC had one of their best performances of the season in defeating 2011 MLS Cup finalists Houston. A storyline from last Sunday’s 3-1 victory was the attacking display of Jamaican youngster Darren Mattocks. The second overall pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft, Mattocks was a menace to a makeshift Dynamo backline, as the speedy forward could have had more than the two goals he scored in the game. The other storyline to be taken from the Houston win was Vancouver showing another level of maturity in not only taking the game to a top MLS club, but withstand the Dynamo’s very potent and experienced attack.

Saturday’s contest will be an equally challenging task for Vancouver, with Rennie’s side knowing full well that results against Western Conference opponents like the Rapids make a considerable difference to their position in the standings. This current home stand also offers Whitecaps FC the opportunity of establishing themselves further in the postseason picture. Include a certain Barry Robson to the squad in the weeks ahead, and ‘Caps fans will have genuine reasons to be excited for the rest of the season.

Whitecaps FC will be without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre and striker Atiba Harris (both knee), as well as youngster Omar Salgado (foot) for Saturday’s match.

RAPIDS

It can be said that Colorado have done well to be sitting in a playoff spot in the Western Conference after playing the early stages of this season with numerous injury concerns. As many as 10 Rapids players have been sidelined through injury, though head coach Oscar Pareja is hopeful of having midfielder Brian Mullan and the strike pairing of Casey and Omar Cummings available for the weekend visit to Canada’s west coast. Colorado’s long casualty list also includes the re-signed Drew Moor and fellow centre back Marvell Wynne, as well as Scottish midfielder Jamie Smith. Defender Anthony Wallace (Achilles) and veteran midfielder Pablo Mastroeni (headaches) are also sidelined, while midfielder Ross LaBauex (sports hernia) is listed as probable.

Those absences have prompted others in Pareja’s squad to step up and perform. Off-season acquisition Jaime Castrillon leads Colorado with four goals this season, while Argentine loan signing Martin Rivero is the Rapids assist leader with five. Selected 14th overall in this year’s MLS SuperDraft, midfielder Tony Cascio is sure to contest the likes of Mattocks and others for this season’s MLS Rookie of the Year award. The University of Connecticut product has appeared in every match for Colorado to this stage, scoring two goals and recording one assist. Cascio and his teammates are keen to reverse one trend in Vancouver. Five of the Rapids’ six defeats this season have come away from home.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday’s match is the third MLS meeting between Whitecaps FC and Colorado. Both clubs first met at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on July 9, 2011, with the Rapids coming away with a 2-1 victory. A first-half strike by Conor Casey and a second-half goal by substitute Scott Palguta gave Colorado all three points on a stormy night in Commerce City, Colorado. Camilo Sanvezzo replied for Whitecaps FC with what was the best goal of the match. Their second meeting was Vancouver’s final match of their inaugural MLS season, with the Rapids earning another 2-1 victory on October 22, 2011. Alain Rochat gave Whitecaps FC a halftime lead at BC Place before the Rapids earned all three points with second-half goals from Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson.

Prior to 2011, Whitecaps FC played 21 matches versus former American Professional Soccer League (APSL)/A-League club Colorado Foxes. From 1992 to 1997, Vancouver registered an overall record of 10 wins and 11 defeats versus Colorado, with the 'Caps claiming seven wins and four defeats at home to the Foxes during that time.

There are many connections between both sets of players. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon and defender/midfielder Jordan Harvey are former Rapids players, while ‘Caps director of soccer operations Tom Soehn played for former APSL club Colorado Foxes from 1992 to 1994. During the 2005 United Soccer Leagues First Division season, Colorado’s Scott Palguta made his professional debut as a member of Rochester Raging Rhinos versus Whitecaps FC at Swangard Stadium. Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit and Rapids goalkeeper Ian Joyce are former teammates at English side Watford FC, while ‘Caps midfielder John Thorrington and Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens played together at Chicago Fire. Vancouver’s Jun Marques Davidson and Colorado’s Kohei Yamada, meanwhile, are former Japanese J.League players.

As members of the MLS Western Conference, Saturday’s visit of Colorado to BC Place is the first of three regular season meetings between both clubs in 2012. Whitecaps FC will then face the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, on Wednesday, July 4, before hosting Colorado again at BC Place on Sunday, September 23.

NEW THIRD KIT

On Saturday, Whitecaps FC will play their first match in the newly unveiled third kit. Unlike the club’s primary and secondary colours of white and blue, the third kit’s primary colour is a unique arbutus brown with sky blue accents, which reflects the various forests of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Whitecaps FC will wear their new third kit up to three times a season.

Fans can purchase the third jersey and ancillary pieces at a kiosk set-up on Terry Fox Plaza at BC Place from Thursday, June 14, until Sunday, June 24, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT, as well as at Whitecaps FC home matches. Fans who purchase any third jersey will receive a primary (white) jersey of equal or lesser value for 50 per cent off. This offer is valid at BC Place retail locations only. Some conditions apply.

The third kit will also be available online at mlsgearcanada.ca, and after Monday, June 25, will be available at retailers who carry Whitecaps FC merchandise, including most Sport Chek locations.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK…

Following Saturday’s clash with Colorado, Whitecaps FC complete their three-match home stand when they host Eastern Conference high-flyers New York Red Bulls next Wednesday night, June 20. Kickoff from BC Place is set for 8 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus New York Red Bulls can also be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices at 8 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the June 20 match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 6 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 10 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the June 20 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Whitecaps FC are pleased to announce that two match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email sales@whitecapsfc.com. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.