Whitecaps FC-Rapids Preview

Already on a roll heading into a key Western Conference matchup,

the Colorado Rapids will likely get an additional boost Saturday

night.

The Rapids’ first designated player, Gabriel Torres, is expected

to make his debut against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps as his

new club looks to match the longest unbeaten streak in franchise

history.

Colorado (9-7-9) hasn’t lost in its last eight matches and is

one shy of tying the team mark set April 30-June 11, 2011. The

Rapids, though, would certainly like three points out of this

matchup with the Whitecaps (10-7-6) after playing to draws in each

of their first two games this month, the latest a 1-all tie with

Chivas USA on Sunday.

Colorado and Vancouver are tied for second in the West, and the

Whitecaps are eager to build on their first victory in nearly a

month. They topped San Jose 2-0 last Saturday to snap a three-game

winless skid.

Torres will try to provide some help by continuing his

high-scoring ways. The Panamanian forward was one of the leading

goal scorers at the CONCACAF Gold Cup along with MLS stars Landon

Donovan and Chris Wondolowski.

“He’s scored big goals, still only 24 years old, still a couple

years before he gets into his prime,” technical director Paul Bravo

told the league’s website. “If you look at the makeup of our group,

(it’s) a young nucleus of quality players that we hope can grow

together and give us some sustainable success over the next few

years. And he fits as a goal scorer in that group.”

Along with matching a team record, the Rapids will try to extend

a five-game home unbeaten streak and snap a three-game winless skid

against the Whitecaps. Vancouver has gone 0-1-2 in its last three

road contests.

“We can neither avoid nor hide the importance of this game. We

all know it,” Colorado coach Oscar Pareja told the team’s website.

“That brings a normal pressure to everyone, but it’s a good

pressure. It’s actually beyond pressure. It’s the responsibility

that we have and feel in facing Vancouver with all those elements.

We have to win.”

Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks could return from a minor knee

injury Saturday, joining Camilo Sanvezzo, who scored his 14th goal

last week against San Jose and is tied for the league lead.

“(Scoring is) very important,” Sanvezzo said. “I’m more happy

(when) our team wins the really important games.”

The Rapids could get midfielder Hendry Thomas back from a

two-game suspension.