Whitecaps FC-Rapids Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
(AP) -- The Colorado Rapids picked up a big win their last time out. With their two star players back on the pitch together, they'll now try to start climbing the Western Conference standings.
The Rapids look to win back-to-back MLS games for the first time since March when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night.
Injuries have made it difficult for Colorado (7-8-1) to sustain any sort of momentum, and it had dropped consecutive games before a 3-0 win over Portland last Saturday. Conor Casey scored his first goal of the season and Matt Pickens made two saves.
"I don't think we had any choice but to play well," Pickens said. "We have to start making our climb now and putting up zeros up on the board for opponents and we should be scoring a lot."
The Rapids will try to keep things going with matches against Vancouver and Seattle - two teams ahead of them in the standings - this week. However, Colorado hasn't won two consecutive league matches since starting 2-0-0.
The Rapids feel better about their chances to turn things around with Casey and Omar Cummings again paired together. While Cummings left Colorado's last game - the first the duo had been on the pitch together in nearly a year - in the 74th minute with ankle pain, coach Oscar Pareja is optimistic they can make an impact.
"Conor is getting all those moves and the timing with the other players as well, and Conor has not played much with a couple of the guys that came up this year," Pareja told the league's official website. "So all those things made me think that we keep growing. We keep growing with them."
This is the second match between the teams after Vancouver - despite playing the final 30 minutes with 10 men - defeated Colorado 1-0 on Sebastien Le Toux's goal in the 80th minute and five saves by Joe Cannon.
The Whitecaps (7-4-5) weren't able to build on that victory, though. Following a 1-all draw against New York on June 20, they lost 3-0 at Los Angeles three days later, ending a five-game unbeaten streak.
Midfielder and designated player Barry Robson is expected to debut for Vancouver. A member of Scotland's national team, he also scored nine goals in 39 overall matches for English side Middlesboro in the League Championship last season.
"He'll be involved," coach Martin Rennie said. "Whether he starts or not, we're still not 100 percent sure, but he ... has looked very good in training. His fitness is good. He understands the game well and he knows he 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."
Before last month's loss, the Rapids had won the previous two meetings between the teams.
Updated July 3, 2012