Whitecaps FC kick off July with an important trip to Colorado Rapids

'Caps continue extended road trip on Wednesday night

Starting a very busy stretch of seven Major League Soccer matches in 24 days, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-4L-5D) make their lone regular season visit to Colorado Rapids (7W-8L-1D) for a very important Western Conference clash on Wednesday evening.

The Blue and White are looking to start the month of July in positive fashion by erasing the disappointment of a heavy defeat at defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy. Martin Rennie’s side meet a well-motivated Rapids squad that are keen to avenge their last encounter with Vancouver on June 16. Playing with ten men, Whitecaps FC claimed all three points with a fine Sebastien Le Toux winner in the second half on Bell Pitch at BC Place.

Whitecaps FC versus Colorado Rapids from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 8:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

Following the enjoyment of an extended break that included the Canada Day long weekend, Whitecaps FC will reach the midway point of their MLS season with the completion of Wednesday’s match. At this stage, Rennie’s side will be pleased to have established a solid foundation for themselves in the Western Conference, with a very challenging second half of the campaign to come. That challenge begins this week, with the second of five matches on the road and a vital six-pointer against conference rivals Colorado.

With ten days to reflect on a tough 3-0 defeat at LA Galaxy, Whitecaps FC will be looking for another ‘bounce back’ performance in Colorado. The midweek match will likely see the MLS debut of the club’s new Designated Player Barry Robson, who is eligible to play following last week’s opening of the North American secondary transfer window. Rennie looks set to involve the Scotland international versus the Rapids, with Vancouver’s midfield missing the services of Jun Marques Davidson through suspension, plus John Thorrington (quad) and Matt Watson (ankle) through injury.

Whitecaps FC are also without three other injured players for the Colorado trip. Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre and striker Atiba Harris (both knee) remain on the sidelines, while striker Omar Salgado (foot) is out of action for most of the summer. Youngster Caleb Clarke is currently on trial with FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt of Germany’s third-tier ‘3.Liga’, with a view to a year-long loan move.

RAPIDS

Having labored through the first half of this season with several injury concerns, Colorado have done well to remain within touching distance of the top sides in the Western Conference. On Saturday, the Rapids snapped a two-match losing streak and took their home record to 5W-2L-1D with an impressive 3-0 win over Portland Timbers. Among the goalscorers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night was striker Conor Casey - who along with Jamaican international Omar Cummings - returned to Oscar Pareja’s starting XI following lengthy injury lay-offs. Jamie Smith also scored against the Timbers, having appeared for the first time this season after recovering from knee ligament damage. With centre back Marvell Wynne also fit again, things are looking up for Colorado.

Beyond the returning faces, Whitecaps FC will be mindful of two players that proved a real handful in last month’s dramatic game at BC Place. The South American duo of Jaime Castrillon and Martin Rivero have been key acquisitions by Pareja this season. Castrillon remains Colorado’s leading scorer with five goals, while Rivero tops the Rapids’ assist chart with six. As for goalkeeper Matt Pickens, he will be looking for his 40th career victory in a Rapids uniform during this American Independence Day clash with Vancouver. Pickens tied the club’s record of career goalkeeping wins (39) with his clean sheet versus Portland.

Colorado will be without defender Anthony Wallace (Achilles) and veteran midfielder Pablo Mastroeni (headaches) on Wednesday. Defender Kosuke Kimura (foot) is listed as probable.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Wednesday’s match is the fourth 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 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/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 a less-than-impressive record of three wins and seven defeats against the Foxes in Denver, Colorado.

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 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 Thorrington and Pickens played together at Chicago Fire.

As members of the MLS Western Conference, Wednesday’s trip to Colorado is the second of three regular season meetings between both clubs in 2012. Whitecaps FC will host the Rapids again at BC Place on Sunday, September 23.

….THEN BACK TO CALIFORNIA

Following the midweek trip to Colorado, Whitecaps FC will make their third regular season visit to The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Saturday evening - this time for a second away clash with Western Conference rivals Chivas USA. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet West, and Sportsnet ONE, as well as Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

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