COMMERCE CITY, CO – The road warriors are back.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-4L-1D) defeated Colorado Rapids (1W-6L-1D) 1-0 on Friday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to earn their second straight win away from home. Substitute Brek Shea scored the game’s only goal in the 84th minute after missing the last five matches with a knee sprain.

Talk about a triumphant return.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park had not been kind to Vancouver in the past. The ‘Caps had lost their last six matches there heading into this one.  But they bumped the slump on Friday, in the process improving to their record to 4W-4L-1D on the season thanks to three wins in their last four matches.

After strong performances at Portland and Montreal, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson fielded the same starting XI for the third straight match on Friday – only the second time any Whitecaps FC coach has done so since the club joined MLS in 2011.

And the ‘Caps once again looked a cohesive unit in their new 4-1-4-1 formation.

Robinson’s side pressed as a group, got into some good areas, and were solid at the back, with centre backs Tim Parker and Kendall Waston leading the way. There wasn’t much to report in terms of quality scoring chances in the opening frame, but that changed early in the second half.

In the 55th minute, Colorado came within inches of opening the scoring when Jordan Harvey’s clearance at the back post hit the woodwork, nearly resulting in an own goal. A diving David Ousted then swatted the rebound off the goalline to avert any further danger.

That seemed to open the game up a bit, as the ‘Caps quickly followed with some chances of their own.

In the 57th minute, Tony Tchani chested down a wayward Cristian Techera shot at the back post just out of the reach of Fredy Montero. A minute later, Sheanon Williams made a fine run down the flank only to see his delivery cleared at the near post. And in the 74th minute, Christian Bolaños missed the target from in close after a long throw from Williams eventually landed at his feet in the box.

A scoreless draw was looking more and more likely – until the 84th minute, that is.

That’s when a pair of substitutes combined for Whitecaps FC, with Nicolas Mezquida picking out Shea on the counter just beyond the halfway mark. Shea took care of the rest, finishing with a calm left-footed strike in stride through the legs of goalkeeper Tim Howard.

It went from bad to worse for Colorado shortly later, when Mekeil Williams was ejected for a second yellow card in the 88th minute. But that was only a footnote on another strong performance for the Blue and White, who conclude their four-match road trip next Friday at Houston Dynamo.