COMMERCE CITY, CO – Two down, two to go.
After a pair of strong performances at Portland and Montreal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC continue their season-long, four-match road trip on Friday night vs. Colorado Rapids.
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. PT | TV: TSN 1/4 | RADIO: TSN 1040
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
Road show: The ‘Caps are coming off their first road win of 2017 – an impressive 2-1 victory over Montreal Impact. That’s now two strong performances in a row away from home including their 2-1 defeat at Portland a few weeks ago. In fact, Vancouver had more possession in those games than they’ve had in any other match this season. It’s a sign that they’re developing a new mentality on the road – a winning mentality. On Friday, though, the altitude will present a different challenge for the ‘Caps, who have lost their last six matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Reeling Rapids: What a difference a year makes. The Rapids, who finished as the second best team in MLS last season, are 1W-5L-1D to start 2017, which has them at the bottom of the table. They’ve also lost four straight matches. Certainly, they’ll be looking to bump the slump on Friday.
Howard’s back: After a three-match suspension due to an altercation with a fan in Kansas City, Tim Howard will be back in goal for the Rapids on Friday. He’s the most decorated keeper in MLS, having played over 300 games for Everton in the English Premier League and started the last two World Cups with the U.S. national team. On Friday, he’ll face a dynamic ‘Caps attack featuring striker Fredy Montero flanked by wingers Christian Bolaños and Cristian Techera, who appear to be rounding into form.
Matias Laba (M) vs. Shkelzen Gashi (M): Injuries have slowed Shkelzen Gashi’s start to 2017, but the ‘Caps know all too well what he’s capable of. In the final meeting between these two teams last year, the Albanian international scored two goals, including a sublime free kick that would eventually be crowned MLS Goal of the Year. Gashi can play on the wing or centrally. If it’s the latter, he’ll surely be seeing a lot of Matias Laba, who has been deployed as a lone defensive midfielder in Vancouver’s last two outings in a new-look 4-1-4-1 formation.
Should Jordan Harvey play on Friday, it would be his 250th regular season appearance in MLS. “Remarkable achievement,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “Jordan’s a fantastic professional. He’s loved around the city and he’s loved on the field. I laugh at people when they say give 110 per cent. You can only give 100 per cent. That’s your maximum. But he always tells me he gives 110 per cent. And he does. He leaves it all out there.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Three of Kendall Waston’s seven goals in MLS have come against Colorado, including a pair of goals assisted by his countrymate Bolaños last year.