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Game 17: Away to Vancouver, or the litmus test

Vancouver was the first team Conor Casey faced after being named interim head coach two days before the match.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a phrase that’s been making me think a lot recently: The litmus test. In chemistry, it is a test to determine the pH level of a chemical. In soccer, it is meant to be more of a look at the overall state of the team itself. This week, the Colorado Rapids end their short international break by heading to Vancouver.

This will be the second time playing them this year, but a lot has definitely changed since then. So having already covered the state of the Vancouver Whitecaps here, let’s instead talk about how our team has changed since May 3rd and what this game may mean for the rest of the season.

The previous Vancouver game was the first of the new Conor Casey era. However, Casey had less than a week to adjust to the new team and the Front Office has brought in a couple of key players in Lalas Abubakar and Jonathan Lewis (who will notably be gone due to Gold Cup duty). All of those changes are still minor compared to the most important one: The Rapids started winning. Yes, after the LA Galaxy away game, the Rapids have looked like a completely different team, and have earned 13 points over their last five games. We’ve managed to even get a couple of shutouts in this time.

Vancouver, on the other hand, has been hit or miss since. They earned their second win of the season against the Rapids and since have gotten another two wins, three draws, and a loss. None of these have been a huge deal, but that run of form has pushed them to the ninth place in the Western Conference. With a win against us, they could move into a potential playoff spot, whereas with us a win would push us up just below the playoff line.

This game is going to be crucial… but not for the result. I wouldn’t read a lot into what happens strictly based off of the number of points we get out of it. Rather, I’d say it’s more about how this team approaches the game. We had an unfortunate game against New Mexico United in the Open Cup match, losing in penalty kicks. It was a disappointing match which made sure that, yet again, we wouldn’t be competing in the Open Cup beyond our first round. So the big questions heading into Vancouver are: How will the team react to that? Will we come out confident and ready for action as the team has played otherwise recently? Or will we have, for lack of a better phrase, a Hudson relapse, where our team looks dejected and doesn’t play like the team we can be?

It is usually a challenge for this team to play on the road. Combine that with our loss in the Open Cup and it might spell disaster. This time, though, we’re playing like a real team that can compete in MLS. The last time the Rapids went to Vancouver, we won 1-0. Colorado is 3-5-3 in BC Place. We’ve got a chance.

I think a tie on the road would be perfectly acceptable at this point, but again it isn’t so much about the actual result of the match but rather how the team looks. Let’s support our Burgundy Boys and hope they show that the NMU match was a fluke and not the beginning of a trend.