Rapids-Whitecaps FC Preview
Now that they've officially clinched a playoff spot, the Colorado Rapids have a chance to improve their seeding.
The Rapids will try to help themselves by sweeping the season series with the eliminated Vancouver Whitecaps in Sunday night's regular-season finale.
It was a virtual certainly that Colorado (14-10-9) would be headed to the playoffs going into this weekend, but it became official Saturday night after San Jose's 2-1 victory against Dallas. The Earthquakes would have had to score 13 or more goals to put the Rapids' postseason hopes in any doubt.
The Rapids are in the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference but still have a chance to avoid the knockout round, played between the teams finishing fourth and fifth. They will climb past Los Angeles and Seattle if those clubs play to a draw Sunday and if Colorado wins at Vancouver.
A victory would mean the Rapids finish no lower than fourth - regardless of the Galaxy-Sounders result - and at least get home-field advantage in the knockout stage.
"We want to go and fight for those points and the three points puts us in a better spot," coach Oscar Pareja told the team's website.
Colorado has earned three points in both meetings with Vancouver (12-12-9) this season, though both were at home. The Rapids beat the Whitecaps 2-0 on Aug. 17 and 3-2 last Saturday in both teams' most recent match.
Gabriel Torres provided the winning margin in the 77th minute with his second goal of the game after Vancouver's Camilo Sanvezzo had tied it on a penalty kick in the 75th.
"This win showed me so much about Gabe and the team," Pareja said. "To be able to bounce back the way we did after giving up the lead showed how much heart this team has."
With his team out of the running for a playoff spot, Sanvezzo can concentrate on trying to capture his first MLS scoring title. With 19 goals, he trailed Chicago's Mike Magee and Montreal's Marco Di Vaio by one heading into this weekend.
Sanvezzo has five goals in his last five games for the Whitecaps, who will look to snap a season-high, four-game winless streak at home (0-2-2).
"This week is big for us," coach Martin Rennie said. "We owe our fans a really big performance. They've been incredible for us all season long. We'll be really fired up."
Colorado is 2-5-3 over its previous 10 road games and has lost its last two. The Rapids are 0-1-1 in Vancouver since winning 2-1 in their inaugural visit Oct. 22, 2011.