Whitecaps not taking Rapids lightly
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Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson doesn't worry about complacency — simply put, he won't allow it.
Coming off a franchise-record third consecutive road win, the Whitecaps sit atop Major League Soccer's Western Conference ahead of this weekend's test against the lowly Colorado Rapids. Keeping an even keel — at least in front of the cameras — seems to be in Robinson and his team's DNA.
That isn't about to change because of a few victories.
"I know the way that I am, I know the way my coaches are," he said. "We don't get too carried away if we're in a rut or we're not in a rut."
The game against the Rapids in Commerce City, Colo., on Saturday will mark the end of a season-high five-game road trip for the Whitecaps, who were forced out of B.C. Place Stadium by the Women's World Cup.
Vancouver (10-6-2) started the six-week run away from home with a loss against the Montreal Impact before impressive triumphs over the Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution.
The wins over the Galaxy and Revolution snapped long home unbeaten streaks for those sides, and the Whitecaps want to make sure that hard work doesn't go to waste when they visit Colorado (2-6-9), which occupies the West basement.
"There's no point going to New York and winning or L.A. and winning if we don't take care of the next set of business," said Robinson. "(But) make no doubt about it, it's a difficult game for us."
In fact, the last time the Rapids tasted victory in MLS was a 1-0 decision over the Whitecaps at Dick's Sporting Goods Park back on May 23. Vancouver has lost its last four visits to Colorado overall, with the club's only win at altitude coming back in 2012.
"(The Rapids) are a team that we need to beat," said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. "That said, I still believe that they're a good team. They're a little bit down right now. They're not playing as well as they can, but it's a tough place to go and play."
Saturday's hosts are winless in six (0-4-2) since the teams last met, but the Whitecaps are wary of an opponent desperate to start a climb up the table.
"We have to be ready to fight and battle and not just match their intensity, but go above and beyond," said Vancouver defender Steven Beitashour. "They're not necessarily fighting for their lives, but they know they're at the bottom and they need to get results now rather than later."
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, already have six road wins on the season, two better than the club's previous high mark, and are eager to return home with another victory in a tough environment.
"It's going to be a very intense game. We know it's difficult to play there," said Robinson. "We'll go there with a positive mindset. We go there on the back of a couple decent results so we should be full of confidence."
Notes: Whitecaps captain Pedro Morales looks set to miss a third straight game with a calf injury. ... Ousted was named MLS player of the month for June. ... Robinson said he has been following the Women's World Cup and is picking the United States to beat Japan in Sunday's final at B.C. Place.
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