Carl's Keys to the Game vs. Colorado Rapids

The legend talks about balance, new blood, and the midfield

Highlights: Portland Timbers 1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1

Right balance

For the time being, we sit level on points with Colorado Rapids in the ever so tight Western Conference – though we have two matches in hand. With this game being in Colorado, the onus is definitely on the home team to get the three points. This means Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie can set up his team to be tight defensively and try to catch the Rapids on the break.

If we get into a too much of a defensive mode early, however, it might give Colorado more confidence and prevent us from getting a foothold in the game. I found this was the case in LA last month against the Galaxy.  

On the other hand, we showed against the Timbers in Portland that when we do pressure teams high up the field we can cause problems for the opposition and dictate the pace of the game.

It’s going to be important for us to find the right balance this weekend. We need to be patient and set ourselves to be tight on defence, knowing we have the firepower to score goals on the break. But at the same time, we need to have periods in the game where we have good possession so that we are not forced back into our own end playing without the ball for long periods of time.

Finding that right mix of patience and aggressiveness will go a long way in getting a positive result.

Gabriel Torres highlights from the Gold Cup

New blood

Colorado is unbeaten in their last eight matches, but a number of those results have been draws due to a lack of finish in front of goal. They have looked to correct this with their latest two signings – both of them forwards.

Vicente Sanchez, 33, is a veteran striker from Uruguay who came off the bench in Colorado last game versus Chivas USA. He made an immediate impact, helping his team come from behind to earn a 1-1 tie.

Gabriel Torres, 24, is a young Panamanian striker who scored five goals for his country in the recent Goal Cup and is Colorado’s first Designated Player.

There’s a good chance both of these players could make their full debuts at home this Saturday, hoping to give the Rapids an offensive spark. Colorado is very high on both these players and if they draw into the lineup they will have to be watched very closely.

Reo-Coker sets up Camilo's goal vs. San Jose

Control the middle

After last weekend’s 2-0 win over San Jose, Rennie said that Gershon Koffie turned in “one of his best performances for a long time.” There’s a good chance the three in midfield will be the same with Nigel Reo-Coker and Daigo Kobayashi joining the young Ghanaian.

They showed a lot of good chemistry and seem to complement each other, and we know if you can control the midfield you have a great chance of winning. Koffie excelled in his role as a holding midfielder, which allowed Reo-Coker to make his surging runs and Kobayashi to sit in the gaps between the Ghanaian and the forwards.

If this midfield continues to blossom on Saturday, we have every chance to get another result on the road.