The Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids occupy the bottom two spots in the Major League Soccer standings.
For that reason alone, both teams should be motivated to put up some offence when they face each other Friday night in Commerce City.
Coming off a 1-1 draw at BC Place last Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, the Whitecaps have taken points in three of their last four matches. Sitting at 1-5-3, Vancouver has held its opponents to one-or-fewer goals six times this season. Even if they have just one more victory than Colorado, the players feel they have been in every game and are better than their record shows.
“It’s a difficult situation for both teams. We are in need of a victory,” forward Freddy Montero admitted. “We have to keep doing a good job defensively and of course try to improve when we are attacking.”
Montero watched last Saturday’s game from the bench. It was just the second time as a member of the Whitecaps that Montero failed to play in a regular season contest when on the 18-man roster (43 MLS matches). As one of the highest paid players on the club who has shown the ability to score in the past, you can bet Montero will be motivated to get back on the pitch this weekend.
“I have experience and I know the league,” said the 31-year-old native of Colombia. “I know what I can bring to this team. For me, it’s about being ready when the coach wants my talent on the field.”
Perhaps the tonic Montero needs to get things going in the right direction is playing Colorado. In 12 career meetings with the Rapids, Montero has scored six goals and tallied six assists.
“At the moment, we know the team is needing something different,” Montero stated. “As always, we need to bring energy and motivation to prove to everybody this team has good quality.”
With just one goal in eight appearances, Montero has been one of the more disappointing strikers in the league this season. The same cannot be said of last year’s leading goal scorer in Vancouver. New Rapids forward Kei Kamara is on pace to have one of his best seasons in his MLS history. With five goals through nine matches, Kamara is the brightest light on a team that is winless (0-7-2).
“Kei has been a big name in the league for many years now,” Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau said. “We know how good he is in the air and how big an asset that is for their team.”
Attempting to keep Kamara contained will likely fall on the Whitecaps centre-back duo of Doneil Henry and Erik Godoy, arguably the most consistent performers this season for the club. They are the only two players who have played every minute of every match. They have also combined for 99 clearances, the second most in MLS.
Regardless of who is in the lineup, you can expect the Rapids to be ready to play. Last Wednesday, Colorado let go of coach Anthony Hudson. After coming on board in November of 2017, the Rapids went 8-26-9 in league play under Hudson.
Conor Casey takes over on an interim basis after joining the club as an assistant coach two seasons ago. He is the all-time leading scorer in Rapids history, tallying 50 goals from 2007-2012. Casey also won MLS Cup MVP honours when Colorado won their only title in 2010.
Vancouver is undefeated in their last three trips to Colorado (2-0-1). Prior to that, the Whitecaps had just one victory in eight visits to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Former Whitecaps midfielder Nicolas Mezquida will face Vancouver for the first time after being dealt to Colorado last December for goalkeeper Zac MacMath and $100,000 in TAM. Mezquida made 101 appearances for the Whitecaps from 2014-2018.
After drawing two of their first three matches, the Rapids hope to halt a six-game losing streak. They enter the weekend having allowed a league-worst 24 goals against.