Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Prediction, Preview and Odds - 9/19/21

Two surging Western Conference foes will clash on Sunday night when the Vancouver Whitecaps visit the Colorado Rapids at DSG Park. Vancouver saw a lengthy unbeaten streak finally end last Friday in a 1-0 home loss to the rival Portland Timbers as +132 underdog, and is now in ninth place in the West at 7-8-8. Colorado holds down third place at 12-7-4 as a lengthy unbeaten streak of its own continued with a 2-2 road draw with Portland on Wednesday, with the tie hitting at +217 odds.

These teams met back in early May, with Colorado winning 1-0 on a neutral field. Colorado leads the competitive all-time series 11-5-9.

Vancouver’s two-month unbeaten streak comes to an end

After looking like one of the worst teams in MLS early in the season, the Whitecaps reeled off a 5-5-0 run to get back into playoff contention, but were unable to keep it rolling last Friday in the Cascadia Cup against Portland. On a sluggish night for both offenses, the lone goal came in the 66th win Vancouver defender Ranko Veselinovic knocked it into his own net, and while the Whitecaps would play better down the stretch, they couldn’t breakthrough.

Neither offense generated many dangerous chances, with possession finishing dead even and each team recording three shots on target apiece. Maxime Crépeau stopped the few chances Portland had effectively, but couldn’t do anything about the redirected ball off of Veselinovic.

“I think we had more chances than them; we at least deserved a tie. I don’t think there’s a risk of getting frustrated. That’s the talk that we had immediately, right after the game. If we play like this, if we keep working like this, I guaranteed the players that we’re going to be above the line at the end of the year,” acting manager Vanni Sartini said via The Province.

While things have gone much better lately, the Whitecaps have pedestrian numbers on both sides of the ball overall with an average of 1.26 goals and 10.34 shots per match. Opponents have put up 1.43 shots and 13.43 shots per game, with the Whitecaps keeping four clean sheets.

Cristian Dajome is the leader of the Vancouver offense with eight goals and four assists on the season. Brian White has also scored four times, while Deiber Caicedo has four goals and three assists.

Striker Lucas Cavallini is the big name on the Vancouver injury report as he is sidelined by a knee problem. Defender Cristian Gutierrez (quad), midfielder Caio Alexandre (foot) and midfielder Jake Nerwinksi (knee) have also been ruled out.

Colorado hopes to push unbeaten streak to double-digits

The Rapids have kept pace near the top of the Western Conference table thanks to a current 5-4-0 run dating back to July 31, and they managed to scratch out a mid-week road draw with surging Portland. Colorado appeared to be in good shape after Portland went down to 10 men just before halftime and indeed tallied goals from Jonathan Lewis in the 64th minute and Michael Barrios in the 87th, only for the Timbers to answer just moments later both times.

As expected against a team that played a half with just 10, Colorado dominated with 62% possession and racked up 24 shots on target, although only seven of those went on goal. Andre Shinyashiki and Jack Price were each credited with assists, while goaltender William Yarbrough made two saves.

“I just think that we’re a young team that is learning and making our way through the league. Certainly making strides going forward, but we just appear to be a little bit naïve tonight in a couple of situations, and certainly, it’s a disappointing draw given how long we were a man up and the fact that we were leading twice,” manager Robin Fraser told Colorado’s official website.

The Rapids are solid enough offensively with an average of 1.48 goals and 13.30 shots per match, with those numbers trending in the right direction lately. Defense has been the true calling card of the Rapids with exactly one goal per game allowed on 12.52 shots per match, and Colorado has kept nine clean sheets.

Barrios is the driving force on the Colorado offense with seven goals and three assists on the season. Price easily leads the team in assists with eight, while Diego Rubio has added four goals and three helpers.

Midfielder Younes Namli is the only player on the Colorado injury report as he recovers from ankle surgery.

Side prediction: Colorado -1 (-115)

Total: Under 3

While the Whitecaps are certainly playing better lately, this is too tall of an ask against one of the best teams in the West in a very difficult road environment. The Rapids have been tough in the altitude of DSG Park with a 6-4-1 home record this season, and Vancouver still has too many shortcomings offensively to keep up.

This is a very balanced Colorado team right now, as the offense has been solidly above average all year while the defense is allowing just 0.77 goals per game during this nine-match unbeaten streak. Even though the results have been solid for the Whitecaps lately, the underlying metrics indicate that probably won’t continue much longer, and they are still dead last in the Western Conference in expected goals.

No team in MLS has a bigger home/road splits than the Whitecaps, who are just 1-6-4 away from home with the lone win coming at expansion Austin FC, and they get way worse on both sides of the ball on the road. Colorado is the superior team all around, especially at home, and has a great chance to win by multiple goals here.

There’s just not a lot of scoring depth for the Whitecaps right now, and that finally came back to bite them last week as they got absolutely nothing going against Portland. Vancouver’s hot streak has been more keyed by the defense, which has allowed zero or one goals in eight of of its last 10 matches.

Colorado’s high-pace attack won’t be as effective on Sunday, as this is a very short turnaround following a tense road match at Portland with just three days of rest. This is a great chance for the Rapids to keep a clean sheet, and the Colorado offense won’t quite do enough to cover the over.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.

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