After three weeks off the Vancouver Whitecaps will be back in action at BC Place where they host the Colorado Rapids Saturday 7 p.m. PST.
The Whitecaps, however, will be somewhat depleted against the Colorado Rapids this weekend. Goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau and field players Derek Cornelius, Doneil Henry and Russell Teibert are currently away on Gold Cup duty with Canada.
Meanwhile, Lass Bangoura was called up to Guinea’s national team that currently competes at the Africa Cup in Egypt. Furthermore, Joaquín Ardaiz is still out with an injury. “He will not be back until the LAFC game,” head coach Marc Dos Santos said this week.
Vancouver, however, were prepared for the Gold Cup and potential call-ups to other national teams during the summer. One player, who has been ready to step in has been goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
“I spent some time in the gym just to get physically ready knowing that I was going to play against Colorado,” MacMath said this week. “It hasn’t really hit me,” he said when asked about this being an opportunity to finally show his skills. “I am taking it the same as I would every week,” MacMath said. “Just preparing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is when I start to mentally prepare for the game,” he added.
Signed from Colorado Rapids the game on Saturday, however, is special for MacMath. “Obviously, there is not a team that I want to beat more than Colorado,” MacMath said. “That is normal, but at the same time you just go out and hope that the guys in front of you can help you as much as possible,” he added.
With Henry and Cornelius off at the Gold Cup, those two defenders right in front of him remains to be seen. The Whitecaps are currently dangerously thin in that department and aside from Argentine Erik Godoy do not have a healthy first-team defender in the squad at the moment.
“We had Andy Rose play in a back three,” Dos Santos said this week. “Now those two weeks during the break we were able to work on a line of four and see how he adapts to that role also,” he added.
Midfielder Rose could be the solution to fill that gap for the Whitecaps in defence. “It is a very different test than the one we faced in Colorado,” Rose said this week. “They have been on a better run recently, but we need to focus on ourselves,” he added.
Colorado has only lost once in six games since facing the Whitecaps on May 3. In fact, of their last five games, the Rapids have won four in Major League Soccer. Colorado, however, did suffer a defeat in the US Open Cup to United Soccer League side New Mexico United (2-4 after penalties) on June 12.
Unlike Vancouver, the Rapids will have almost their full squad at their disposal. The only player missing will bee recently-acquired winger Jonathan Lewis.
“We’re very aware it’s not the same Colorado we faced when we were there,” Dos Santos said. Depleted or not after three weeks off the Whitecaps a raring to get the MLS season back underway.