Rapids 2 (5-9-6, 25 pts) will be leaving the country this week to travel to Vancouver to take on Whitecaps FC 2 (7-6-7, 31 pts) for the second time this season. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. MT and the game will be broadcast on mlsnextpro.com.
“It is a short week for us, so we will know how well we recovered and if we are ready,” said Erik Bushey, Rapids 2 head coach. “I think that is going to play a big role in our ability to get some success there. As always, we expect another good game.”
Off the heels of a shootout loss in the MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week, the Rapids will now head to Canada after three days of rest to square up against the Whitecaps.
In the team’s most recent match against North Texas SC, defender Michael Edwards came up big and found the equalizer in the final seconds of the second half. As a result, Colorado faced its fourth straight MLS NEXT Pro shootout, but only managed to pick up one point in a 0-3 shootout loss. With a draw in regulation and a loss in the shootout, Rapids 2’s playoff run came to a halt, however the team remains focused heading into their last four matches of the season.
“After the last game, we were eliminated from the postseason race, but that doesn’t change how we are and how we play,” said forward Yosuke Hanya. “We have to play for the club. We have to play for the fans. We have to play for people who have been supporting us throughout the season. That is how we are looking at this next game.”
In the team's first meeting with Vancouver, striker Dantouma “Yaya” Toure earned himself his second brace of the season, finding his first goal in the third minute of the match and the equalizer in the 29th minute. Although the team played the entire second half down a man, they still managed to grind until the last whistle to end regulation in a 2-2 draw. Colorado would then embark on what would be its first of four shootout determined matches. The Rapids ended the night with two points after converting three penalty kicks from the spot for a 3-2 shootout victory.
“We know it is going to be a tough game,” said Bushey. “Obviously, an interesting game we had with them last time. A lot of emotion, a red card, tough game. A tie in the end and a shootout result that went in our direction. I think there will be a lot on the line for that game.”
Thursday’s match will mark one of four games remaining in the team’s inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. As it stands, Toure leads the team in goals with eight this season, but a season-ending injury opens the door for players like Darren Yapi and Hanya to take the lead in the scoring charts. On the opposite end of the pitch, veteran keeper Abraham Rodriguez continues to impress in goal as he remains steadfast in his search for a clean sheet to end the season.
With few chances remaining, the Rapids will look to build on their upward trajectory and keep their four game win streak alive.
“We have to play together. We have to stick together. We have to push each other until the very last minute. That is all we have to do to get three points, especially because we are going to Vancouver. When it comes to playing on the road, we have to give our 120 percent every time,” said Hanya.
Tune into this week’s match versus Whitecaps FC 2 on mlsnextpro.com at 8 p.m. MT on Thursday, August 25.