We have finally reached our last match of this first MLS season and we have a chance to finish it how we started it, with a big win and a big crowd, as we face off against the 2010 MLS Cup champions Colorado Rapids. It would also be our third home win in a row, which would go a long way to establishing Bell Pitch at BC Place as a fortress.
Colorado come into this match with a lot on the line, as they can clinch a home Wild Card playoff match next week with a win against our ‘Caps. The Rapids have won only one of their last seven matches in MLS, so a win is much needed for the confidence of this team going into the postseason. On form, the Rapids are a tough team to beat. Head coach Gary Smith normally employs a 4-4-2 formation that is very disciplined and hard to break down. Colorado have 13 draws so far and have been in 11 one-goal matches. They are hard-working and like to grind out matches as they did on their way to the 2010 MLS Cup title.
The ‘Caps will have to be patient and be ready to match Colorado’s work rate led by their gritty midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, who is their engine of their team. Larentowicz has also chipped in with six goals to tie for the scoring lead on this Colorado team. He will look to set the tone for the match, so it will be vital that Whitecaps FC ensure he is not dominating the midfield.
In net, Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens has started every match for the Rapids this year, and he looks like he is rounding into form at the right time, shutting out the last two opponents (Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas). Another player who has started in every match is defender Kosuke Kimura, who has consistently put in steady performances at the back to limit chances on the Colorado goal.
Up front, the Rapids can play two players that really complement each other in Jamaican Omar Cummings – who has become their set-up man, leading the Rapids with seven assists – and Gambian player Sanna Nyassi – who has the second-highest goal total on the team and likes to make runs from the midfield area. Both are smaller but quick players and have an eye for the goal. They also have the option of starting a bigger and stronger player in 6-foot-2 striker Caleb Folan, who would look to cause the Whitecaps FC defence a different sort of problem.
Not only is this is the last match of the 2011 MLS season for Whitecaps FC, it is also Fan Appreciation Day at BC Place. So in that theme, we will welcome the 2010 MLS Cup champions to our home and appreciate what they did last season, but then we need to send Colorado back home to the Rockies with a defeat, so that we can show our great appreciation for the fantastic support our fans have shown this season.