Preview: Home-and-home series with Colorado Rapids to decide Whitecaps FC's playoff fate

'Caps continue playoff chase Saturday afternoon in Colorado

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s (12W-11L-9D) playoff fate could become a lot clearer this weekend when they kick off an enormous home-and-home series with fifth-place Colorado Rapids (13W-10L-9D).

Kickoff for Saturday's match between Colorado and Vancouver is set for 3 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet ONE, and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 1 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match.

Whitecaps FC fans are also invited to the official Whitecaps FC Viewing Party at TC Lions Pub - 888 W Cordova Street - Vancouver. Festivities kick off at 2:30 p.m. PT and will be hosted by 'Caps legend Carl Valentine and special guest Greg Klazura. Mingle with your fellow supporters, win prizes, and enjoy the match!

The ‘Caps currently trail Colorado by three points for the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference. They meet the Rapids Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, before hosting the Denver outfit the following weekend in their regular season finale.

In order to qualify for the post-season, Whitecaps FC will need at least four points from the two games – and possibly six depending on the results of sixth-place San Jose Earthquakes, who are two points up on the ‘Caps with two matches remaining.

Should Whitecaps FC end up level on points and wins with Colorado and/or San Jose, Vancouver would hold the tiebreaker (goals for) and therefore advance. As it stands, the 'Caps have 48 goals and would maintain their advantage over Colorado (42 goals) with a win and draw. San Jose is well back with 33 goals. 

Last match: Seattle Sounders FC 1-4 Vancouver Whitecaps FC

WHITECAPS FC

There’s been a lot to cheer about for Whitecaps FC fans over the last few weeks, including a thrilling come-from-behind draw with Portland Timbers, a historic 4-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC, and the club’s first Cascadia Cup win since joining Major League Soccer.

The ‘Caps were crowned Cascadia champions after Portland defeated Seattle 1-0 Sunday at JELD-WEN Field, but their victory over Sounders FC just a few days earlier kept them in contention. With their season hanging in the balance, Whitecaps FC humbled their Pacific Northwest rivals with a dominant 4-1 performance last Wednesday, October 9 at CenturyLink Field.

Making just his fourth start this season, 18-year-old rookie Kekuta Manneh carried Vancouver to victory with a natural hat-trick, becoming the youngest MLS player ever to score three goals in one match.

Daigo Kobayashi, who set up two of Manneh’s three goals, also turned in one of his best performances of the season. The Japanese midfielder looked very comfortable behind strikers Manneh and Camilo atop Whitecaps FC’s new-look diamond midfield.

The ‘Caps have now outscored their opponents by a 7-1 margin in their last two road matches and are undefeated in three straight outings away from BC Place – a streak they’ll hope to extend this weekend.

Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie is expected to have defenders Johnny Leveron and Carlyle Mitchell, midfielder Russell Teibert, and striker Darren Mattocks available if needed on Saturday. All four players were away with their respective national teams early this week.

On the injury front, striker Kenny Miller has missed three straight matches with tightness in his right adductor, but is traveling with the team to Colorado ahead of Saturday's match. The Scotsman participated in parts of Thursday's training session, while Omar Salgado (right foot fracture) and Brad Rusin (right ankle sprain) are both back to full training. 

Last match: San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Colorado Rapids

COLORADO RAPIDS

Colorado had a chance to book their ticket to the postseason with a win over San Jose Earthquakes last Wednesday, but Chris Wondolowski had other ideas.

The reigning MLS MVP scored his league-high seventh game-winning goal of the season in the 69th minute to help keep San Jose afloat in the Western Conference playoff race.

Prior to that, the Rapids embarrassed Seattle with a 5-1 thrashing October 5 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Rookie Deshorn Brown scored two goals – his first came just 15 seconds into the match – and Dillon Powers added a goal and an assist in the victory.

Both players are considered to be in the running for MLS Rookie of the Year. Brown, who just earned his first cap with the Jamaican senior men’s national team, leads the team with nine goals – followed by Powers, Edson Buddle, and former ‘Caps striker Atiba Harris with five. Powers’ status for Saturday’s match is unclear after he missed Colorado’s last match with a possible concussion.

The Rapids, who are undefeated in eight straight home matches, would clinch a playoff berth with a win against Whitecaps FC this weekend.

Brown and Designated Player Gabriel Torres are both expected to be available after returning from international duty with Jamaica and Panama in the recent CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers. Both players made a mark for their respective nations. Brown started and forced an own goal in Jamaica’s 2-2 draw with Honduras, while Torres played the full 90 minutes and scored a goal in Panama’s devastating 3-2 loss to the United States.

August 17, 2013: Colorado 2-0 Whitecaps FC

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The only previous meeting between Vancouver and Colorado this season came on August 17 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The ‘Caps created a number of chances, but simply could not convert and it proved costly as the Rapids walked away with a 2-0 victory. Brown and Buddle provided the scoring for the home team.

Colorado holds the all-time edge over Whitecaps FC with a 3W-2L-1D record. Last season, however, the ‘Caps went undefeated against the Rapids and won two of their three meetings – including a 1-0 victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

NEXT UP

Whitecaps FC wrap-up the 2013 MLS regular season on October 27, when they host the Rapids at BC Place in the back half of their home-and-home series.

The final home match of the regular season will also be Fan Appreciation Night. A number of activations are planned to thank fans for their continued support.

Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.