VANCOUVER, BC – As Vancouver Whitecaps FC prepare to take on Colorado Rapids this Saturday, they will look to draw on their recent road performances – a 3-0 thumping of the Montreal Impact on Sept. 28 and an equally comprehensive 4-1 win Oct. 9 over Seattle Sounders FC.
Those two games are perhaps Vancouver's most impressive consecutive road matches since joining MLS in 2011. Like many sides in the league, Vancouver has generally struggled playing in opposing stadiums. But it seems that at least when it comes to current form, the side has figured out a winning away formula.
“In our last couple of away games we have played to our best and we've done really well,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters following a training session at the University of British Columbia on Thursday. “We've won both those games. We've scored seven goals, so we need to take confidence from that and just focus on doing the same things again.”
Both of those away victories were strong team efforts punctuated with excellent individual performances – first an exhilarating two-goal substitute performance from Camilo in Montreal, as the Brazilian scored two goals within three minutes, before Kekuta Manneh's hat-trick against the Sounders last week.
If the 'Caps can keep this road run going, it will come at a vital juncture. With just two matches remaining, Vancouver sits three points back of the Rapids, who hold the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Both of those matches are against the Rapids, starting with Saturday's match in Commerce City, Colo., before the Whitecaps play host the following weekend.
It's difficult to imagine Rennie tinkering with his attacking front three of Camilo, Manneh and Daigo Kobayashi, who sliced and diced their way through the Sounders' backline with seeming ease. But with all eyes likely focused on Manneh, still just 18 years old, it will be interesting to see if he has an encore in store after such a breakout performance.
As for Rennie, he's taking a more hands off approach and dismissed the idea that he'd be taking his younger players aside to talk about not letting the occasion and the pressure get to them.
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“I think if you start talking like that, then they start getting worried,” Rennie said. “Right now, they don't care. They're just going to play, and I think that's a little advantage we have. Sometimes with young players they just get on with the game and they just focus on what they've got to do.”
While Vancouver's front three will likely remain the same, Rennie's options will be boosted with the return of Darren Mattocks and Kenny Miller to the bench. Mattocks was away on international duty with Jamaica and will link up with the 'Caps in Colorado. Miller has battled an adductor injury suffered in that 3-0 win over Montreal at the end of September.