The Colorado Rapids are still flying high in the Supporters’ Shield on the back of a 12-game unbeaten run.
However, their last two games have been scoreless draws and, after the stalemate against Portland on July 4, they lost their lead in the standings to FC Dallas.
No team goes through a campaign without some sort of dip, the key is to pull yourself out of quickly. Goalless draws at LA Galaxy and against the Timbers represent more of a blip than a dip but, as we start the second half of the regular season, Pablo Mastroeni will want a response.
The head coach has created a binary side, at least defensively. It is generally “0 or 1” in the goals against column. They have only conceded twice in one of their first 17 regular season games despite significant personnel changes at the back. And only two of the 11 goals conceded have arrived in the first half.
That road record of 2-2-4 needs improvement, especially as the Rapids are now drawing at home. But mid-season international tournaments can cause lethargy and some of Mastroeni’s stars may be working their way through that mental and physical residue.
At Vancouver, we might finally see that quartet of Jones-Pappa-Gashi-Doyle on the same pitch for the first time. The Albanian was substituted for the Guatemalan against Portland.
If you include Tim Howard, then the Rapids are adding impetus and experience at the right time. And it would be handy to regain their winning knack before Dallas visits Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 23.
Vancouver are having a patchy season. The defeat to LA last Monday was their third in five games after a trio of victories in May.
Significantly, man-mountain defender Kendall Waston returned for that game after missing the “patchy” spell.
Vancouver not only score more goals than Rapids, they score them in different ways. Carl Robinson’s side has hit five penalties to the Rapids’ none. Meanwhile, Mastroeni’s men have scored four from crosses while the Whitecaps have yet to register via that source. Pedro Morales (six goals – five penalties, four assists), Christian Bolanos (5,2), Kekuta Manneh (5,2) are the main threats while Blas Perez (2,1) has three career goals in seven starts against the Rapids. Meanwhile, keeper David Ousted leads MLS in saves with 65.
At 7-8-3, Robinson’s record is hovering around the red line in the Western Conference this season. But the Welshman knows he has time to turn that around and momentum is everything second half of a MLS regular season.
Colorado Rapids @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Saturday, July 9, 2016 | Kickoff at 8:00 p.m. MT
Referee: Allen Chapman
Rapids: Burling, Serna, St. Ledger (all knee)
Whitecaps: Aird (calf), Bustos (eye), Dean (knee), Teibert (quad), Kudo (questionable – jaw)
TV: Altitude TV
Radio: Altitude AM 950 and La Invasora