SPORTS

Mirror Image: Robinson sees lots of similarities between Whitecaps, Rapids

05/22/2015 07:31 EDT | Updated 05/22/2016 05:59 EDT
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids might be sitting at opposite ends of the standings, but Carl Robinson says Saturday's game will be like looking in the mirror.

"I see a team that's pretty similar to ourselves," the Whitecaps' head coach said this week. "They're very good in transition, they play a lot of young players, they like to get the balls in behind (the defence) and play through centrally sometimes."

But despite those similarities, Vancouver and Colorado have had very different fortunes roughly a third of the way through the Major League Soccer schedule.

The Whitecaps (6-4-2) sit second in the Western Conference table heading into the weekend, while the Rapids (1-2-7) occupy the basement thanks in large part to a league-high seven ties.

Colorado started the season with three straight scoreless draws and, after a win sandwiched around two losses, have played to four straight 1-1 results heading into the match against Vancouver in Commerce City.

The Rapids' sputtering start has been disappointing, but Dick's Sporting Goods Park is always difficult trip for visiting teams because of the altitude — the Whitecaps' only victory there came back in 2012 — and Vancouver will be facing a side eager to lock up its first home victory of the season.

"We know what Colorado can do, especially at (home)," said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. "The elevation and everything, they're used to playing there and we're not. There's no chance that we're taking them lightly."

Apart from the comparable styles of play Robinson cited, another trait the teams share has been an inability to finish scoring chances. The Whitecaps have 14 goals through 12 games in MLS this season, including just three on the road, while the Rapids have scored nine times in their 10 matches.

Vancouver does have three 1-0 victories as part of its 3-1-1 away mark. But, Robinson admitted his players need to be more clinical after last Saturday's 2-0 home loss to the Seattle Sounders and two games in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal that saw the Whitecaps advance against second-tier FC Edmonton 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.

"We're a work in progress," said the Welshman. "We've got to continue to work every day in our patterns of play, on our attacking phases in the final third. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don't. When they do we're good to watch, and when they don't we can be frustrating to watch."

The Rapids have also rued many of their missed opportunities in front of goal, but help has arrived with the recent signing of a pair of forwards: Ireland international Kevin Doyle and Argentina's Luis Solignac.

"Both players bring an exceptional level of quality to the group," Colorado head coach Pablo Mastroeni told the club's official website. "They've been dynamic in the little time they've been here and I think the guys have really fed off of them. It's great to add two great players, two great people to the roster.

"They are both available and fit for selection."

The Whitecaps will be completing a busy schedule of five games in 15 days when they meet the rested Rapids, who haven't played since May 8 after last weekend's match against Sporting Kansas City was postponed due to inclement weather.

Vancouver has yet to lose two straight games in 2015 and after last weekend's defeat against Seattle, the players know its critical to get back on track against another conference opponent.

"Over an entire season there will be dips, there will be performances that you're not completely happy with," said Ousted. "We've been good at rebounding this year and that's going to be a strength of this team."

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