Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids | MLS Match Preview

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC vs COLORADO RAPIDS
BC PLACE, Vancouver, B.C.
March 29, 2014 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #29)
4 p.m. PT (TSN2; CSN-Hou+)

A key early-season matchup in the Western Conference is ahead on Saturday afternoon when Vancouver Whitecaps FC entertain the Colorado Rapids at BC Place. Whitecaps FC are still undefeated on the season after four games, coming off a 2-1 home win vs. the Houston Dynamo last week. The Rapids suffered their first loss of the season last weekend after yet two more penalty kicks, falling at home 3-2 to Sporting Kansas City.

REFEREE: Ioannis Stavridis. AR1 (bench): Kevin Klinger; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Kreitzer; 4th: Daniel Radford
MLS Career: 1 games; FC/gm: 34.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 0; pens: 0

SUSPENDED: COL: Marvell Wynne (through April 6)
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (8 meetings): Whitecaps FC 3 wins, 11 goals … Rapids 4 wins, 11 goals … Ties 1
AT VANCOUVER (2 meetings): Whitecaps FC 2 wins, 7 goals … Rapids 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCHES: 6/28: Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7 p.m. MT; 10/25: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 7 p.m. PT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
8/17: COL 2, VAN 0 (Brown 36; Buddle 79)
10/19: COL 3, VAN 2 (Torres 41, 77; Brown 51 – Manneh 32; Sanvezzo 75)
10/27: VAN 3, COL 0 (Sanvezzo 43, 74, 84)

  • Whitecaps FC won their lone home meeting between the teams a season ago, a 3-0 win in the season finale on Oct. 27 at BC Place.
  • The Rapids had won the first two meetings between the teams, both at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • Each team has won once at the other’s home ground, the Rapids in 2011 at BC Place, Whitecaps FC in 2012 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • Coaches record: Carl Robinson vs. COL: first game … Pablo Mastroeni vs. VAN: first game

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC kept their undefeated opening to the season alive, recording a 2-1 win against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon at BC Place. Whitecaps FC sit in a tie for second place the Western Conference with 8 points from 4 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Whitecaps FC scored the opener in the 14th minute. Pedro Morales sent a pinpoint right-footed cross from the left onto the head of Andy O'Brien's, and he sent the ball across goal where Jordan Harvey pounced on it to tuck the ball past Tally Hall from close range.
  • Vancouver then doubled the lead in the 58th minute. After Kofi Sarkodie handled the ball in the box, Kenny Miller had to take the resulting penalty kick twice, scoring both times – after referee Kevin Stott blew down Miller's initial spot kick due to encroachment by a number of Whitecaps players.
  • The Dynamo narrowed the lead in the 75th minute when Ricardo Clark headed home a Brad Davis free kick, finding the bottom right corner past goalkeeper David Ousted.
  • Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Jay DeMerit came back into central defense in place of Johnny Leveron, Gershon Koffie started in midfield for Nigel Reo-Coker, and Pedro Morales came into the side in place of Sebastian Fernandez.
  • VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-3-1-2): David Ousted - Steven Beitashour, Andy O'Brien, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey - Gershon Koffie (Kekuta Manneh 76), Matias Laba, Russell Teibert - Pedro Morales (Nicolas Mezquida 87) - Darren Mattocks (Sebastian Fernandez 65), Kenny Miller.

TEAM NEWS

  •  Whitecaps FC have opened the season undefeated in four games for the second time in their four-year MLS history, also starting 2012 with two wins and two draws.
  • Dating back to last season, Whitecaps FC are undefeated in their last five league matches, one game shy of the club’s MLS record, set last June 15-July 14. The ‘Caps also ended this year’s preseason schedule undefeated in their final four games.
  • “We showed some determination. We defended as well. We couldn’t ask for much more. The two road performances weren’t great but we got back to BC Place and got another three points. Eight points out of 12 is not a bad start,” said striker Kenny Miller.
  • Miller scored his third goal of the season in bizarre circumstances – converting a penalty kick on a second chance after a first one (also converted) was ordered re-taken by referee Kevin Stott because of infringement in the penalty area.
  • Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson changed his tactical scheme for the Dynamo match, pairing Miller and Darren Mattocks in a strike partnership, with Pedro Morales at the head of a four-man midfield.
  • “I said that I wanted Kenny and Darren to both be in the team, but I wanted Pedro [Morales] to play. So I tweaked a little bit of a formation and played with a diamond,” Robinson said. “I thought it would catch Houston out, and I think in the first half an hour it did, and we got our goals.”
  • Morales returned to the starting lineup after coming off the substitutes’ bench vs. New England, and recorded his second assist in MLS.
  • “I feel really comfortable playing in the position. It allows us to keep the ball.  But the truth is any position that we decide to line up with, we’re comfortable to move the ball with,” Morales said.
  • Gershon Koffie also made his first start of the season, coming in on the right side of the midfield.
  • "We are a team who can attack from anywhere. I made a tactical change based upon that as well. We can, whether it's from width with Sebastian (Fernandez), or Kekuta (Manneh) who went straight down the middle with Pedro (Morales) and Kenny (Miller).  ... I was going to bring Sebastian on because I think we were keeping the ball enough in the midfield, and I was going to bring Gershon (Koffie) off and I was going to put Sebastian on the left side and move Russell (Teibert) over to the right side of the diamond so I was going to go smaller,” Robinson said.

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids lost for the first time in the 2014 season, Sporting Kansas City hitting for a late game-winner in a 3-2 match on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 4 points from 3 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting broke through in the 50th minute. A long pass down the right side found Sal Zizzo, and he hit a cross-goal pass that left Graham Zusi with a simple finish at the back post.
  • But seven minutes later, the Rapids got to the penalty spot again after Ike Opara grabbed the ball in the box, and once again, Vicente Sanchez converted from the spot.
  • Then in the 78th minute, a tackle from Benny Feilhaber on right back Shane O’Neill earned yet another penalty kick from referee Jose Carlos Rivero. Sanchez once again finished from the spot, putting the Rapids in front
  • But just 45 seconds later, Feilhaber made amends by volleying in a loose ball in the penalty area. Then in the 85th minute, Colorado defender Marvell Wynne was sent off for a second yellow after a foul on Zusi.
  • The game-winner came two minutes into stoppage time, when substitute Dom Dwyer blasted home a close-range effort from a tight angle.
  • Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni made one change to the team that claimed a 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Jared Watts came into the midfield in place of the suspended José Mari.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): John Berner - Shane O'Neill, Marvell Wynne (ejected 85), Drew Moor, Marc Burch (Nathan Sturgis 62) - Jared Watts, Nick LaBrocca - Deshorn Brown, Dillon Powers, Vicente Sanchez (Marlon Hairston 88) - Edson Buddle (Gabriel Torres 82).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids became the first team in MLS history to be awarded five penalty kicks over three games, when they won two spot kicks in their 3-2 loss to Sporting KC. All five Colorado goals this season have been scored as a result of the penalties – four from the spot kicks, and one from a rebound.
  • Just once before has a team won penalty kicks in four consecutive games – when the Rapids were awarded five penalty kicks over four contests from Sept. 27-Oct. 19, 2008 (converting three).
  • “I think we're not too far away. Obviously it's early in the season, but I think the guys put up a fight,” said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “ … I think the defensive performance was brilliant, they limited the chances of a team that finds themselves creating more chances than their opponents and I think today our team did a really good job battling hard.”
  • Vicente Sánchez has converted all four penalties he’s taken, and is tied atop the MLS Golden Boot standings with four goals, along with Chivas USA’s Erick Torres.
  • “I think we needed to convert better in the first half,” Sanchez said. “We had a good first half with lots of chances, but we couldn’t get the advantage. We lacked a little bit on the finishing end.”
  • Jared Watts made his full professional debut, starting the game in a holding midfield role. Then he was moved to left back for the final half-hour when Marc Burch suffered an injury.
  • “He's probably never played left back in his life, and we have no left-footed guy on the bench, at the moment we're plagued with a bit of injuries,” said Mastroeni “ … He's so versatile, can play a load of positions, he brings a lot of heart and passion to every game, every practice. So really pleased with his performance.”
  • Burch was forced off with a calf injury, and there will be at least one more forced change to the Rapids back four with Marvell Wynne suspended after being sent off.
  • “We won't have a few of the guys next week. But every team deals with this, this isn't unique to us. There's no feeling sorry for ourselves, it's just getting after it,” said Mastroeni “We've got plenty of guys in that locker room that are dying for an opportunity and the guys that stepped in battled hard as well. It's an opportunity for new guys to step up and stake a claim for their position on this team and I'm excited about [this] week.”