Commerce City, CO – The Colorado Rapids will try to build upon their impressive win last time out when they welcome Vancouver Whitecaps FC to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday.
Colorado trounced the Portland Timbers in a 3-0 win at the weekend, lifting the club to within four points of Vancouver in the Western Conference table.
The Rapids have been traditionally strong in 4th of July encounters, winning 10 of 11 matches at the old Mile High Stadium and Invesco Field. But they have not fared quite as well since making the move to Dick's Sporting Goods Park, claiming just one win from five matches on Independence Day.
"We have to take advantage of that mental high that a player receives from being supported by his home fans," head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. "The 4th of July has always been a special game in Colorado, for the fans, for the players, and for the club. If our players can find a little bit of that connection with the fans, there is something within the player that allows him to give just a little bit more."
Pareja knows all about Colorado's penchant for winning on July 4. While he never faced the Rapids on the holiday during his playing days, he revealed that the intangibles of hosting a sold-out crowd on such a day can provide extra incentive to pick up a positive result.
"What is sometimes called magic or extra motivation in soccer can be found on these 4th of July games because the stadium is full, and there's a sense of family, of liberty, and of patriotism," he said. "When all those things come together, it can bring something extra to a player and a game."
The Rapids will certainly face a strong test in the clash though, going up against a Western Conference foe that sits above of them in the table.
Vancouver occupies fourth place in the West with 26 points on the campaign, four points better than Colorado.
The 'Caps are returning to the pitch after an much-needed off-week. They were routed in their last outing, losing to the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 at The Home Depot Center.
The arrival of Designated Player Barry Robson could not have come at better time. The Scottish midfielder has had some time to get acclimated with his teammates, and he looks set to make his MLS debut on Wednesday.
"I've been here a couple of weeks and I'm here to play," Robson told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. "That's the manager���s decision. If he wants me to play from the start, he wants me to play from the start. The team have been going really well - unfortunate to lose their last game [against LA Galaxy 3-0].
"It's not easy to get in the team at the moment, because they had four really good results before that so I have to bide my time. If it's not Wednesday, hopefully it will be Saturday."
Head coach Martin Rennie confirmed that Robson will be feature in some capacity but did not reveal to what extent.
"He'll be involved," Rennie said. "Whether he starts or not we're still not 100 percent sure, but he looked really good [Monday] and he has looked very good in training. His fitness is good. He understands the game well and he knows the time will come where he���s starting or making a contribution for us off the bench, but I think he���s very close to being ready to start."