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Rapids look to extend strong Fourth of July run

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – For the Colorado Rapids, the Fourth of July has always been a special holiday.

During their annual game on US Independence Day, the Rapids have racked up an impressive 11-2-3 record, and they’ll look to continue their run of dominance on the Fourth of July on Wednesday night when they welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9:30 pm ET, MLS Live).

It was only on June 16 when the Rapids conceded an 80th minute goal to Vancouver’s Sébastien Le Toux and a 1-0 ‘Caps win at BC Place, leaving the visitors with a bitter taste in their mouths following a game where they felt as though they deserved a better result.

“Vancouver was one of those games that I wrote a lot of positive things that I want to keep seeing,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said on Tuesday. “And I saw it again against San Jose. The result was not what we wanted. But I thought that was the foundation for what we saw last Saturday, it was the prior two games where we did not get good results, but very good performances from the team.”

The Rapids will be coming in fresh off a convincing 3-0 win Saturday night over the Portland Timbers, where Colorado turned in arguably their most complete performance of the season. With the three points this past Saturday, Colorado moved within striking distance of the Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders for the third spot in the Western Conference standings, and with a win and Sounders loss at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, Colorado would find themselves just a point back of both Seattle and Vancouver in the fight for the all-important third spot in the West.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature could potentially lend a helping hand to the Rapids as they go for their second win in five days. With temperatures in Denver forecast to reach the 90s on Wednesday, as they were for Saturday’s win over Portland, the heat could prove to be an additional home advantage for the Rapids, who already play their home games at the league’s highest altitude.

“I think the heat played a huge factor, whether Portland says it or not, whether we say it or not, the heat wore me down over the course of the game without a doubt,” defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “We’re a little used to it, whether they train in it or not. … It’s something that we need to use to our advantage.”

For longer-term Rapids, such as Denver native and striker Conor Casey, the Fourth of July and the fireworks show afterwards is always a special occasion, and the Rapids hope to match the extra intensity in the stands with an extra effort on the pitch.

“It’s a fun night, it always has been,” Casey told MLSsoccer.com. “And we’ve had a good record [on the Fourth], so we just have to keep it going.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.