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Downstream Game 3: Away to Vancouver

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MLS: Colorado Rapids at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Whitecaps Stats

2020 Record: 9-14-0 WLT, 27 points for 1.17 PPG

2021 Record: 1-0-1 WLT, 4 points

Goals: 3 for, 2 allowed

Power Rankings: Whitecaps #18 (+3), Rapids #22 (-9)

Last Result: 2-2 tie against Toronto

Ugh.

The game against Austin FC really didn’t go as the Colorado Rapids had hoped.

Let’s not mince words, we came out with no energy in the second half and played 11 of some of the worst minutes of soccer we’ve seen from this team so far. Three goals, three points for an expansion team, and handing them their first win in club history. For the first time having fans back in over a year, that left a dang sour taste in our mouths. But, that was only the second game of a long season—no need to hit the panic button just yet.

The season continues and this time the Burgundy Boys are hitting the road to play the Vancouver Whitecaps... in Sandy, Utah.

Vancouver, as usual, isn’t necessarily a team that you would expect to be at the top of the league. In fact, they are usually in a fight to make it into the playoffs every year. In 2020, they fell just short, both on points overall and PPG. They also had a crushing -17 goal differential, and over just 23 games is a pretty bad indictment on the team’s defense. But they’ve had a productive start to the 2021 season with a solid win over Portland and a respectable tie against Toronto.

The Whitecaps also are leaning solidly on the “evolution, not revolution” type offseason. They added a few players that are probably going to be starters: Deiber Caicedo (Deportivo Cali, Colombian winger), Caio Alexandre (Botafogo, Brazilian midfielder), and Bruno Gaspar (loan from Sporting CP, Angolan right back). Aside from that, they are leaning heavily on their roster from last year. Vancouver has a few players of note aside from those mentioned earlier, chief among them being Lucas Cavallini. The Canadian national team striker was signed as a DP before the 2020 season. Their other DP is Ali Adnan, an Iraqi wingback who has been out due to visa issues. On paper, they are better than last year, but last year’s team also let in 44 goals over 23 games, so I would be surprised if they start going off on a tear this year.

They started the season with an impressive 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers on opening weekend. The Timbers have historically been ranked as one of the top teams in the league, and the Whitecaps have been ranked towards the bottom. An impressive upset, but perhaps it is really more of an anomaly than a trend. They also played against Toronto FC and earned a solid 2-2 tie, but that is slightly less impressive given the concerns around the Toronto team.

There’s going to be an interesting quirk with this away game. Even though it says on paper that this is an away game and we are playing against the Whitecaps, the team isn’t heading to BC Place in Vancouver. Because of issues with the Canadian teams and COVID-19, they are presently occupying the home of our archenemies Real Salt Lake—Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Last year we walked away with the Rocky Mountain Cup after a miraculous 5-0 win, but that was the first and only time we have ever won in that stadium. Sure, this won’t be against RSL, but it will still be in a stadium that we have historically struggled in.

The Rapids need a win. Dallas was a good result but still a tie. Austin punched us in the nose, and most people felt like that was supposed to be an easy three points. It is so important to start the season well off, giving the team that winning mentality that they would benefit so strongly from. Go in, get three points, and get back to being the team that we know they can be.

We’ve broken the Rio Tinto curse, so there’s no reason not to think three points is reasonable. Of course, that’s also what I said about last game, too...