Preview: 'Caps know their job is far from over
Both teams will be going into this game with a must-win mentality. The Rapids want three points just as much as we do. They won’t want to leave it until the last game in Vancouver to get a result.
They will be fired up right from the opening kickoff and will be looking to grab a stranglehold early in this match to settle their nerves. Just look at their game October 5 against Seattle, when rookie Deshorn Brown opened the scoring just 13 seconds into the match.
As the home team, the onus is on the Rapids to take the game to our ‘Caps and try to pin us in our own half. We should be well prepared for this, as the Sounders probably had the same thoughts in our last match. I thought we surprised them by being aggressive straight from the whistle. We pressed them high up the field, creating numerous turnovers and keeping good possession of the ball.
I said in our last visit to Colorado that the first goal would be very important for us, and it will be no different this weekend. Going down a goal early will give us a big mountain to climb and make the conditions that much tougher.
Torres opens the scoring for Panama against the United States
Gabriel Torres and Vicente Sanchez
These two players arrived at the same time midway through the Major League Soccer season to give the team a lift and to play in big games. They won’t get much bigger than the upcoming home-and-home series with our ‘Caps.
I have been impressed with Torres when he has played with the Rapids and his native country Panama. He holds the ball up well and likes to run at defenders if he gets turned on them. Coming off a disappointing loss to the United States in a recent CONCACAF World Cup qualifier, it’s possible Torres will be motivated to make a difference this weekend. At the same time, it could be an emotional letdown for him.
Sanchez is a veteran player from Uruguay who has been a very influential player for the Rapids down the stretch. He has great awareness and is very dangerous in the final third of the field, helping set up scoring chances for his teammates with his accurate passing. We will have to be careful giving up free kicks around our penalty area, as he can be deadly on set plays.
The Rapids will be relying on both players to be the difference in this massive game. Our job will be to make sure they have minimal impact.
Last match: Seattle Sounders FC 1-4 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
We are a team with momentum right now and we should be going into the game fearing no one. Our performance in Seattle is one we have to repeat in Colorado to get a positive result.
If you look at our last three away games (Seattle, Montreal and San Jose), we have played like we play at BC Place. It’s probably because they have been must-win games, but the fact is we have been on the front foot ready to pressure and attack the home team and play to our strengths. Sometimes, the best form of defence is to attack and this mentality has really worked for our players lately.
We cannot afford to let the Rapids dictate the tempo of this match. Even as the away team, we need to be fearless and attack them at every opportunity and keep them honest.
The playoffs start now.