When the Vancouver Whitecaps host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night (10 pm ET | TSN — TV & streaming info), it won’t be just another game for goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
“There’s not a team I want to beat more than Colorado, but that’s normal,” MacMath said after training this week. “At the end of the day you go out and do your job and hope the guys in front of you can help you as much as possible.”
The remarks harken back on how MacMath first landed in Vancouver this past winter, traded from Colorado for Nicolas Mezquida.
The 2011 first-round pick, whose career began with the Philadelphia Union, is no stranger to turbulence, as he was displaced when the Eastern Conference side acquired Algerian ‘keeper Rais M'Bolhi in 2014. A similar situation arrived in 2016 with Colorado, as the Rapids signed US men’s national team veteran Tim Howard, leading to a drastic cut in playing time. Across the last two seasons, MacMath featured in just 11 games.
Still, he plans to approach the match as he would any other.
“I’m taking it the same I would any other week, preparing on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that’s when I start mentally preparing for the game,” MacMath said. “We’ll see when it gets here. I’m sure I’ll be up for it.”
The opportunity arises with Whitecaps’ starter Maxime Crepeau off with Canada for the Concacaf Gold Cup. Now, MacMath will hope to do his part in keeping a four-game unbeaten streak going, though the Rapids are 4-0-1 across their last five games.
That speaks to a resurgence under interim head coach Conor Casey, who took over midseason for Anthony Hudson. The two sides also met back on May 3, a 3-2 win for Vancouver at Colorado in which Andy Rose scored a late game-winner. It served as Casey’s first game in charge.
“It’ll be two different teams mentality-wise, soccer-wise,” MacMath said. “They’re obviously playing a bit different with a new coach, they have confidence, we have confidence. It should be a pretty entertaining game.”
Vancouver is coming into their own, too, as a massive offseason overhaul continues under the guidance of first-year head Marc Dos Santos. MacMath, largely on the sidelines before this weekend’s game, has observed the pieces coming together.
“For a bunch of guys that never really knew each other, we’ve got a really good group,” MacMath said. “There are groups of guys who get along better than others, but for the most part everyone gets on really well and they enjoy each other and talk all the time. You don’t see that a lot in a lot of locker rooms.