MLS Preview: Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Colorado are undefeated in their last eight matches. Vancouver have lost just twice in their last 10.
Let’s go baby.
With around 10 matches to go and the Western Conference playoff picture as muddy as a 6-year-old playing in the pouring rain, all eyes remain on Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Will anyone be able to snatch the points and grasp the opportunity to pull away from the pack?
If you haven’t sneaked a peak at the MLS table lately, the difference between second and seventh place in the West is a miniscule, minute, tiny three points. One win. Theoretically, if everything falls into place, FC Dallas could win and find themselves jumping from seventh to third in one fell swoop.
So if, with double digit matches to go in the season, you don’t think this match matters that much - you’re sorely mistaken.
But don’t take my word for it.
“We can neither avoid nor hide the importance of this game, we all know it,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said. “That brings a normal pressure to everyone, but it’s a good pressure. It’s actually beyond pressure. It’s the responsibility that we have and feel in facing Vancouver with all those elements. We have to win.”
Have to win. Now there’s a new concept this early down the home stretch.
Pareja will have Colorado’s first-ever designated player Gabriel Torres to help him for the first time. The 24-year-old Panamanian forward is set to make his full debut for the club on Saturday, boosting an attack that’s just ninth in the MLS in scoring.
For Vancouver, their recent success has come thanks to a not-so-usual source. Former Premier League talent Nigel Reo-Coker has burst onto the attacking scene, despite playing out of the defensive midfield slot. He teed up both goals against San Jose last week, and admits his teammates are the ones who deserve most of the credit.
“I’m not like a Lionel Messi who can dribble past people” said Reo-Coker. “I’m more power driven because of my physical attributes. But it’s about doing it at the right time. My drive forward won’t make an impact unless I have teammates around me making the run.”
I’m glad he admits he’s no Messi (who is?) but his moves forward are causing other teams problems. Whether he’ll continue to do that against Colorado or be forced back to defend more remains to be seen, but coach Martin Rennie did admit whether Reo-Coker ends up with the assist or not, “he drives us forward.”
Oh yeah, and Camilo Sanvezzo is back atop the Golden Boot standings with 14, having scored 11 goals in their last 11 matches.
There are goals in this match for sure, but whether anyone can cement themselves into that number 2 spot in the West is the overriding question.