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Keys against Vancouver: Score Twice (Or More), Slow Ryan Gauld

September 17, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Colorado Rapids News Release

The Colorado Rapids will look to turn their nine-game unbeaten streak into double digits against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday night. It'll be the second matchup between these two, but a lot has changed for both sides since the Rapids picked up their first victory of 2021 in Sandy, Utah, back in early May.

We're familiar with the moves the Rapids made, but it's time to get caught up on how the 'Caps have changed and how it's affected their play on the field. The biggest change came back on Aug. 27, when they fired their manager, Marc Dos Santos. The club was 5-7-8 (W-L-D) at the time and had just suffered a defeat to Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League in the Canadian Championship.

Rewind the tape back to July and the Whitecaps added Scottish midfielder Ryan Gauld from Portuguese side SC Farense. The 25-year-old is a Designated Player and has played in seven MLS matches. We'll get to him in a minute.

Despite a sluggish start to their campaign, the Whitecaps appeared to have turned the corner even before Dos Santos was relieved of his duties. They went unbeaten in his final eight league matches. And since his departure, they're 2-1-0, which gives them a 7-8-8 record, 29 points and puts them four points below the red line with 11 games to play. Given that they finished last season playing in Portland and began this season playing their home matches in Utah, I think they've done an admirable job of battling and being competitive.

So here's how the Burgundy Boys can begin this three-game homestand with three points.

Score Twice (Or More)

The Whitecaps haven't conceded multiple goals in their previous seven league matches. You have to go back to July to find the last time the backline was bested more than once. It was a 2-2 draw in their final game at Rio Tinto Stadium before getting to go back home to BC Place. I think two goals wins this game and helps wash out the frustrating taste of the tie in Portland.

Slow Ryan Gauld

He's only played in seven MLS matches since arriving in the Pacific Northwest and has already been dubbed "The Gauldfather" by the supporters in Vancity. He has two goals and two assists in 388 minutes. That 0.93 GA/90 would be, if he qualified, sixth-best in MLS right behind Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC. Granted, it's a small sample size at fewer than 400 minutes. But he's a Designated Player so it's not like he's a teenager on a tear. He's a grown man who was brought in to perform at this level and so far, he's delivering. In the 'Caps most recent match at home against the Timbers, he led the team in crosses with 16, shots with three and key passes with four. The Rapids defenders will need to be switched on every time he touches the ball; he's one of those players who can change a game with a single shot, cross or ground pass.

Elevation Advantage

Per, the Whitecaps have the fifth-lowest possession rate in MLS, seeing just 7.4 percent of the ball. The Rapids are two spots ahead of them with 47.7 percent of the ball. This is an ideal game for the Rapids midfield to grab the ball and hang on to it. The Whitecaps have good attacking players, and while good teams only need one key pass and one good finish to score, it's harder to do that when you don't have the ball. Then comes the dreaded 75th minute and the elevation begins to take its toll.

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