Pareja on home-and-home games with Vancouver: "It’s a playoff series for us"

Rapids approaching final two games against Whitecaps with a 'must-win' mentality

Vicente Sanchez vs Vancouver

Photo Credit: 
David Zalubowski / Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- Maybe it was the 30-degree weather. Maybe it was early nerves for Saturday’s must-win encounter against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Maybe it was the leftover stench from a tough 1-0 loss at San Jose last Wednesday. But for whatever reason, Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja was in a foul mood following Tuesday morning’s practice.

Scouting the Whitecaps

Heading into Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (4 p.m. MT, BUY TICKETS) the Rapids, who are just a point ahead of the Earthquakes and three ahead of the Whitecaps for the final playoff spot in the West, are playing for their playoff lives. But in Pareja’s mind, the playoffs have already begun.

“It’s a playoff series for us,” Pareja said of facing the Whitecaps home-and-away to finish the season. “When you have Vancouver back-to-back and [you have] the needing of the points for both teams, it really is a playoff series for us.”

Holding a chance to all but seal their third trip to the postseason in four seasons, the Rapids lost 1-0 to the Earthquakes last Wednesday, forcing them into a dogfight for a playoff berth. It starts on Saturday with the first leg of a home-and-away series with Vancouver to end the season and determine who’s in and who’s out in the West.

“Every game is a must win,” Pareja said. “Any game is a must win.”

The good news for Pareja’s outfit is they’ll have relatively fresh tape to draw on for Saturday’s match. On August 17, the Rapids downed the ‘Caps 2-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, stifling Camilo and Vancouver’s high-powered offense en route to the convincing victory – something they’ll look to repeat on Saturday night and eight days later, as well.

“Everything is important,” Pareja said. “The information that we have out of that game is important, and we’ll try to get some information out of that game and see how everything has evolved because every game brings a different story and is a different challenge. Certainly, you take something out of that game that you want to apply.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.