Four down, one to go.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-6L-2D) conclude their season-long five-match road trip on Saturday, when they visit Colorado Rapids (2W-6L-9D) in their annual Independence Day fixture.
It’s already been quite the trip for the ‘Caps, who are riding a three-match winning streak, and they’re hoping to end it with a bang – fireworks aside.
Match Day: Saturday, July 4
Kickoff: 6 p.m.
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado
Radio: TSN 1410
Whitecaps FC enter the weekend first in the Western Conference and second in the MLS Supporters’ Shield race after three straight wins away from home. And those three wins came at the expense of 2014 MLS Cup finalists New England Revolution and LA Galaxy – as well as 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners New York Red Bulls.
A big part of Vancouver’s recent success has been the play of goalkeeper David Ousted, who was named MLS Player of the Month on Thursday. But they’ve also been dangerous at the other end of the park.
The ‘Caps have scored two goals in each of their last outings. Kekuta Manneh has two goals in three games, while fellow winger Cristian Techera has points in consecutive matches.
Vancouver’s six road wins on the season are already a new franchise-best in MLS.
Whitecaps FC centre back Kendall Waston and midfielder Gershon Koffie are available once again after serving their suspensions due to caution accumulation.
Russell Teibert has joined the Canadian senior men’s national team ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, while Darren Mattocks will join Jamaica after Saturday’s match.
On the injury front, Carl Robinson said this week that there’s a “chance” Pedro Morales (calf) could make the 18 this weekend.
Things haven’t been going as well for the Rapids, who currently occupy the Western Conference basement with just 15 points from their first 17 matches.
Finding the back of the net has been Colorado’s biggest challenge. Their 12 goals are far and away the fewest in MLS. They’ve also been shut out in back-to-back matches. And, to make matters worse, their leading goalscorer Gabriel Torres is away on international duty.
But Colorado has had Vancouver’s number in MLS, so the ‘Caps won’t be taking them lightly.
“When you look at it, we actually have a really poor record when it comes to the teams at the bottom of the table ever since I’ve been here,” Manneh said this week. “But I think now we have a grip on it … we’re not going to change anything. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing; Colorado, Seattle, right now we’re just trying to get the three points.”
This will be the second of three meetings between the two teams this season.
Colorado won the first meeting 1-0 in a match that had no shortage of talking points, including a disallowed Pedro Morales goal and a lighting delay.
The ‘Caps are 4W-7L-1D against Colorado in MLS and 1W-5L-0D at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“We’ve had a tough go of it there,” said left back Jordan Harvey, who is sitting on 99 MLS regular season appearances with Whitecaps FC. “And I think we recognize that. So we need to go in with the right mindset just like we have these last three games. I thought we had a good performance there last time we played away but didn’t come away with the points we thought we deserved. So hopefully we can this time.”
The Rapids have lost just three of their previous 19 Independence Day matches. Their most recent defeat was at the hands of Whitecaps FC in 2012.