VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 22: Carlyle Mitchell #19 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC looks on dejected as members of the Colorado Rapids celebrate their game winning goal during their MLS game October 22, 2011 at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Colorado won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
On the final matchday of the regular season, the Colorado Rapids clinched a home Wild Card match to start the 2011 MLS Cup playoffs. Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson were the heroes as the Rapids overcame a 1-0 deficit in the 2nd half. A sold-out crowd of 21,000 at the BC Place witnessed the defending MLS Cup Champions claim the spoils in Vancouver's final home game of the 2011 season.
The Rapids came off a disappointing 2-0 midweek loss against Santos Laguna to conclude the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. However, the club bounced back in British Columbia and became the second team this season to win in the newly renovated BC Place, Canada's latest crown jewell for soccer stadiums. Portland Timbers defeated their Cascadia rivals when the BC Place debuted on October 2nd.
Vancouver nearly had a dream start just three minutes into the match, as Chinese forward Long Tan nearly scored as fans were still filing into their seats. Pickens made a great reaction save to deny the former Shanghai United youth academy player. Later in the first half, Sanna Nyassi should have done better when he stripped Jay DeMerit of the ball and was clean in on goal. The Gambia international could not beat Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon and Brian Mullan's follow-up shot was blocked.
Just before halftime, former Rapid defender Jordan Harvey nearly punished his former teammates as his effort went over the crossbar. The defender had a great look from inside the penalty area but somehow skied his attempt on goal.
Vancouver would find the first goal as Matt Pickens made an embarrassing mistake from a free kick. Alan Rochat's curling free kick was designed for a teammate in the penalty area. However, his shot found the corner of the goal as Pickens appeared to think the ball was going out of play. Pickens should have made a play on the ball as the Whitecaps celebrated the first lead of the game.
Colorado would answer on a free kick of their own. In the 58th minute, Jeff Larentowicz scored his seventh goal of the season as his powerful low shot found the back of the net. Cannon should have done better as the ball went between his legs and into the goal. With seven tallies to his name, the "Ginger Ninja" as referred to by Rapids fans, is the Rapids leading goalscorer on the season.
The 84th minute saw the eventual game winner, with Wells Thompson scoring from outside of the penalty area. Thompson blasted his shot that appeared to take a slight deflection and found the far corner of the goal. It was Thompson's third goal of the season.
Colorado will most likely host Houston Dynamo or New York Red Bulls on Thursday, October 27th, at 6:00 MST in a Wild Card match. Houston Dynamo play LA Galaxy on Sunday, October 22nd in their final home game of the regular season. With the win, Colorado should have confidence heading into the playoffs, as well as home field advantage for the Wild Card stage.