Whitecaps FC return home to face Colorado Rapids on Sunday

'Caps return to BC Place against Colorado this Sunday

Playing the first of four consecutive matches at home, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-12L-7D) host Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids (9W-18L-2D) for the second time this season on Sunday afternoon.

For the first time in over a month, the Blue and White return to the friendly confines of Bell Pitch at BC Place, with Martin Rennie’s side looking to get back on track after a tough spell that has resulted in five straight league defeats. Whitecaps FC are also looking for a third straight win over the Rapids this season, having claimed a pair of 1-0 victories over Colorado during the campaign. They are also looking to build on a strong home record of 7W-2L-4D this weekend.

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

WHITECAPS FC

With four of their last five regular season games at home, Whitecaps FC have put their focus on what lies ahead. Sunday sees the ‘Caps play their first match at BC Place in 38 days and it may be just the type of game that will help Rennie’s squad get back on track. Though last weekend’s trip to FC Dallas ended in heartbreak, there were enough signs from the performance in Texas to suggest that Vancouver may be about to turn a corner. With the ‘Caps back in familiar surroundings, the role that supporters could play in Whitecaps FC’s potential turnaround could prove just as pivotal to the outcome of the club’s second season in MLS.

What Rennie and his players know is that they control their own destiny, and considering how confident the ‘Caps have been to attack opponents at home this season, Sunday’s match should see an attack-minded formation played against Colorado. Darren Mattocks looks set to make his first start since last month’s defeat at Seattle Sounders FC, while his Jamaican international teammate Dane Richards should also be in consideration after some fine displays at BC Place this summer. At the back, goalkeeper Brad Knighton is in line to make his third consecutive start after solid performances at LA Galaxy and FC Dallas.

Mattocks will be full of confidence come Sunday after topping MLSsoccer.com’s ‘24 under 24’ ranking for 2012 on Friday. Midfielder Gershon Koffie was #12 in this year’s list, while striker Omar Salgado came in at #23.

With home matches against Seattle, Chivas USA, and Portland Timbers to follow the Colorado clash, Whitecaps FC may be further boosted by the availability of a fully fit squad. Salgado continues his recovery from a foot fracture with a full week of training, while centre back Andy O’Brien is also back after being sidelined recently with an adductor strain. Experienced striker Atiba Harris is another option that Rennie can turn to following his recovery from knee surgery earlier in the season.

RAPIDS

It has been a tough first season for Colorado head coach Oscar Pareja, with the Rapids facing an uphill battle to get into the playoff picture in Western Conference. After a 2-0 defeat at LA Galaxy on September 14 left Colorado eight points adrift of Vancouver for the final playoff spot in the west, the Rapids face a must-win situation on Sunday, if they are to have any hope of being in the postseason race. Yet, despite only three wins and 10 points in their last 16 league matches, Colorado have given Whitecaps FC some very good battles this season. Those that attended the June 16 match at BC Place will know of the Rapids’ quality after Pareja’s side contributed to one of the more memorable games of the season.

If Colorado are to make a late season push up the Western Conference standings, then the form of first-choice goalkeeper Matt Pickens will be essential, as will the leadership of captain Jeff Larentowicz in central midfield. With injuries to Brazilian forward Edu (foot) and rookie Tony Cascio (ankle), the Rapids’ attack will look to striker Andre Akpan, veteran goalscorer Conor Casey, Colombian midfielder Jaime Castrillon, and Jamaican international Omar Cummings for production. In Honduran international Hendry Thomas, Colorado have a midfielder with English Premier League experience following a spell at Wigan Athletic FC.

The Rapids will be without defender Anthony Wallace (Achilles), veteran Pablo Mastroeni (headaches), and midfielder Davy Armstrong (personal medical issue) on Sunday. Casey (knee) and Cummings (ankle) are listed as probable.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Sunday’s match is the fifth MLS meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Rapids, with both clubs having won and lost twice to each other in four previous MLS contests since 2011. Vancouver’s first-ever league win over Colorado was an heroic effort at BC Place on June 16, as a ten-man Whitecaps FC side earned a 1-0 victory through a fine Sebastien Le Toux winner in the second half. That was followed by the club’s first league win in Colorado on July 4. Mattocks’ fortuitous winner just before halftime at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park took Vancouver past their 2011 MLS points total of 28 and by the midway point of this current campaign.

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 versus Whitecaps FC at Swangard Stadium as a member of Rochester Raging Rhinos. 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 Pickens played together at Chicago Fire.

DERBY DAY AT BC PLACE

Following Sunday’s clash versus Colorado, Whitecaps FC will gear up for another Cascadia Cup derby showdown, as Interstate 5 rivals Seattle Sounders FC make a second visit of the season to downtown Vancouver on Saturday, September 29. Kickoff from BC Place is set for 6 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 Seattle Sounders FC can also be seen live on TSN2 and Bell mobile devices at 6 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the September 29 match live on TEAM 1040 radio (change from TEAM 1410) and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 8 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the September 29 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC are preparing to launch a special offer for fans on 2013 Season Tickets. To thank fans for their continued support, those who purchase Season Tickets from Saturday, September 22, to Wednesday, October 3, will receive a special signing bonus of 12 per cent off. Fans can take advantage of this offer and renew or purchase their Season Tickets online at whitecapsfc.com or by phone at 604.669.9283.