Preview: Whitecaps FC set to face Colorado Rapids for the first time this season

'Caps travel to the Rockies for key Western Conference clash

VANCOUVER, BC - Having moved into second place in the Western Conference with a 2-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes this past weekend, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-7L-6D) now shift their attention to another team competing with them in the standings, Colorado Rapids (9W-7L-9D). The ‘Caps and Rapids are set to kickoff from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park at 6:30 p.m. PT on Saturday.

Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Colorado Rapids begins at 6:30 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet ONE, and 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 4:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match.

The two Western Conference powerhouses have yet to meet this season in MLS play, however out of the 11 remaining games Vancouver has this season, the Blue and White face Colorado three times: on Saturday night and a pair of home-and-away matches to end the regular season. The ‘Caps will be looking to create a bit of distance between themselves and the 2010 MLS Cup champions. As it stands, Vancouver and Colorado are level on points with 36. However, the 'Caps have two games in hand and hold the advantage when it comes to goal differential.

WHITECAPS FC

Martin Rennie and his boys are fresh off of a 2-0 victory at BC Place versus San Jose Earthquakes, ending San Jose’s three-match winning streak in MLS play.

After a tightly contested first half where both teams struggled to find a rhythm, Camilo Sanvezzo and Kenny Miller both found the back of the net for Vancouver in the second half to secure victory. Nigel Reo-Coker, the Budweiser Man of the Match, had his fingerprints all over the win: he assisted on both goals and completed 49 of 52 passes (94 %). Camilo’s goal in the 60th minute also tied him up with Mike Magee in the race for MLS’ golden boot with 14 goals each. Goalkeeper David Ousted made his home debut in front of a raucous crowd of 20,151 at BC Place. The Dane also recorded his first clean sheet in MLS.

Last match: Whitecaps FC 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes

While most Whitecaps FC players enjoyed a day off on Wednesday, Miller continued his fine form on the pitch by scoring a brilliant goal for Scotland in an international friendly against England at Wembley Stadium. The Scots eventually fell 3-2 to their British rivals, but Miller's strike was highly talked about, making him one of the top 10 trending topics worldwide on twitter during the match.

The 'Caps could be boosted by the return of a pair of key players. Andy O'Brien is steadily regaining his fitness and is available for selection, while Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks has recovered from a minor knee injury and could also be in the lineup. Captain Jay DeMerit remains questionnable, while fellow centre back Brad Rusin is sidelined with an ankle sprain. Omar Salgado is, meanwhile, is back in Vancouver as he recovers from a foot fracture.

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Rapids relied on a late equalizer in the 80th minute from Martin Rivero to escape from an encounter against Chivas USA at the Stubhub Center  with a single point this past Sunday. It was a heated affair between the sides, one that saw referee Chris Penso hand out three red cards to Gabriel Farfan and Tristan Bowen of Chivas and Colorado’s Tony Cascio.  Carlos Alvarez gave the Goats a 1-0 advantage just five minutes into the match.

Last MLS match: Colorado Rapids 1-1 Chivas USA

In terms of injuries for the home side, Edson Buddle (left hamstring strain) and Diego Calderon (right knee surgery) are expected to miss the contest while Kory Kindle (left ankle sprain), Martin Rivero (left quad strain) and Atiba Harris (right quad strain) are all listed as questionable. Tony Cascio will be suspended one match for being sent off versus Chivas USA.

The Rapids are expected to debut newly signed designated player Gabriel Torres. The Panama international obtained his P-1 work visa earlier this week and is eligible for immediate selection versus Whitecaps FC. Expectations are high for the Panamanian, who scored the game-winning goal for Colorado’s Reserves in their midweek win over Chivas USA. Very recently, Torres shared the 2013 Gold Cup golden boot with Americans Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski with five goals, so Whitecaps FC will need to keep an eye on him should he see the field on Saturday.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Whitecaps FC are 2W-2L-1D versus Colorado since joining MLS. While the two  teams have yet to square off in the 2013 MLS campaign, the ‘Caps’ Reserves squad downed the Rapids’ Reserves 2-1 in Commerce City back on May 7. Kekuta Manneh and Tommy Heinemann were the goalscorers for the 'Caps in that match.   

September 23, 2012: Whitecaps FC 2-2 Colorado Rapids

You have to trace back to September 23, 2012 to when these two teams played each other in MLS. It was a see-saw battle at BC Place that ended 2-2. Omar Cummings opened the scoring for Colorado in the 34th minute, before Vancouver scored two goals in five minutes through former Whitecap Alain Rochat and Kenny Miller to give the ‘Caps life. Unfortunately Vancouver couldn’t hold on for the win, as Jamie Smith equalized in dramatic fashion for the Rapids in the 86th minute.

‘Caps left back Jordan Harvey started his MLS career with the Rapids, having been selected in the 2006 MLS Supplemental draft before making 45 appearances over four seasons. One of Harvey’s teammates during his rookie season was current Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who made 86 appearances over three seasons for Colorado, winning the MLS goalkeeper of the year in 2004.

One player that Vancouver fans will be familiar with is Rapids striker and former ‘Caps player Atiba Harris. The Saint Kitts and Nevis international scored in Vancouver's inaugural MLS match in 2011 as they beat Toronto FC 4-2. Harris has made a habit of scoring against his former teams this season with four of his five strikes coming against ex-employers.

NEXT UP

The Blue and White travel home to take on Los Angeles Galaxy next Saturday, August 24th, tickets are still available for the star-studded affair here, but fans are encouraged to act now as they are selling fast. That match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. PT kickoff.