Pre-Game: Vancouver

by Brendan Wyatt

Typically when the Rapids come home for a game in the middle of a long winded road trip, there is nothing we look forward to more than finally getting to see our boys play; but how many of us really feel that way?  I’m looking forward to our tailgate, the Drunken Monk and I are working on making the musical experience just a little bit better.  It’s something I know needs some attention and I have the control to do something about it, unlike the product on the field.

It’s hard to get excited for the signing of Stefan Aigner, when it will be close to three weeks before he officially dons burgundy (or grey as they train in grey kits). When you look up his stats and past performances, he may come with a lot of unknowns but, what we do know is that he may not be the “difference maker” we were promised.

Ironically, the announcement has made a difference though.  I’ve seen it in training.  I spent two days this week at training, and though the new guy isn’t expected until mid-week next week I’ve seen a change. The news of someone coming in who will be challenging a number of guys for a starting spot has upped the intensity level for everyone involved.  For months now training has been pretty routine, many of the guys have been running through the drills at what could be perceived as about 75%. While others may have just stayed focused on the tactics, this week wasn’t like that.  Guys were talking, no, they were yelling at their teammates for the ball, to cover guys and to get into open space.  This was shit that I haven’t seen since Oscar was coach, since Wells Thompson was a part of the squad.

Time to focus on the now, on today’s game against Vancouver.  The Rapids are 7-2-0 (9-6-3 overall) at home when playing against the Whitecaps.  Vancouver, much like the Rapids are inconsistent with their performance’s.  Shellacking Dallas FC 4-0 last week, but dropping points to an injury riddled Timbers side the week before.  Vancouver scored one goal and earned three points against us in this season’s previous meeting, so today’s game is a bit of a revenge match.

Expect to see our boys come out and try to build from the back.  The importance at this week’s training was passing.  They would start with buildup play out of the back, and then the idea was to connect multiple passes before pushing forward.  The problem here is that six passes in a game doesn’t equal a goal (which it did in training) but creating scoring chances and putting the ball in the back of the net does.  That was not part of training and we can only hope that the guys on the pitch can tap into their natural abilities and pressure Vancouver to make mistakes so we can pounce on the second or third touch.

As far as injuries go, Vancouver isn’t a team that is struggling here, having only Brett Levis and David Edgar out with ACL and MLC tears.  The Rapids are nearly perfect as far as health goes too, Bobby Burling is nearing the end of his rehab, while Josh Gatt, and Shkelzen Gashi were training as if they were not hurt.  Nana and Gashi did have to spend a little time after training working on their fitness, but this can be due to the fact that both of them are coming off injuries that hindered fitness.  It would also be wise to remind many of us that while altitude may be good for building up fitness, it is a proven fact it also hinders recovery.

Kickoff is at 8pm for this one, meaning the tailgate will start bumping at 5pm.  Just because the majority of us are frustrated with this season’s results and the lack of action out of the transfer windows doesn’t mean that we can’t take a break from reality to come play with our friends while rooting our team on.

Predicted starting XI: Howard, Hairston, Watts, Sjoberg, Miller, Serna, Saied, Boateng, Gashi, Doyle, Badji.

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