Vancouver Whitecaps look to maintain their unbeaten start to the 2021 MLS campaign on Sunday evening as they welcome Colorado Rapids to BC Place (10pm ET). In contrast, the visitors will be hoping to bounce back after tasting defeat on home soil last time out.
Read our Whitecaps vs Rapids predictions, rounding off this MLS game preview with betting picks.
Sturdy start for Whitecaps
Having missed out on the playoffs last season, losing 14 out of 23 regular season matches, Vancouver would’ve been hoping to do better this term, and if their start is anything to go by, better could well be in the offing. First time out, the Canadian franchise got the better of regular post-season outfit Portland Timbers, winning by a goal to nil in front of a home crowd.
It would be wrong to say that Sunday’s hosts were overly impressive first time out, especially offensively, but they restricted their opponents to few chances and exerted a certain amount of control over the game, which was pleasing.
Last week saw Vancouver face fellow Canadians Toronto in a match that ended 2-2. Their efforts on that occasion were once again reasonable. Offensive improvement was definitely evident, as they not only netted twice, but produced 1.6 expected goals for.
It is early days, but off-season acquisition Deiber Caicedo, who joined from Columbian giants Deportivo Cali, for whom he scored three times and produced four assists in 17 league appearances last season, looks like a progressive signing for the Whitecaps.
Colorado must do more
Match-day one wasn’t a disaster for the Rapids, who delivered a steady performance when drawing 0-0 against FC Dallas, but the required improvement was not forthcoming next time out when they took on expansion side Austin FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
On home soil, Colorado didn’t really dominate, while they looked anything but sturdy at the back, shipping three goals and giving up a rather worrying 2.1 expected goals. Offensive improvement was evident, as they not only found the net for the first time this campaign, but produced 1.5 expected goals for, a 50% increase on their opening-weekend effort, but such efforts meant little given their weak defending.
In recent times, Colorado have struggled to get the better of the Whitecaps. When the pair met last term, the pair played out a 2-2 draw at this venue, while Vancouver won in Colorado by three goals to two. Vancouver have now won three of the last five renewals of this fixture, while Colorado have won just one of those five. Interestingly, the Rapids have won just one of their last eight matches against Sunday’s Canadian hosts. That’s not to say that they ever get heavily beaten in this fixture. Neither side has won by more than a single goal in this fixture since 2016.
Host the value play?
It’s too early to arrive at any real conclusions, however, the early numbers, combined with the numbers of each last term, suggest that Vancouver may just have been overlooked somewhat in the early betting.
Last season, though they were ultimately disappointing, Vancouver did much of their best work at home, which is where six of their wins came. They also took more points per game at home than Colorado did on the road, averaging 1.64 per 90 on home soil. The Rapids averaged 1.45 per 90 on their travels. Similarly, Vancouver averaged an expected goal difference of -0.07 at home, while Colorado averaged -0.14 away from home. Such numbers certainly don’t point towards Vancouver being massively better than their opponents, far from it, but such numbers do suggest that they deserve slightly more respect than the current moneyline gives them.
If we add in that Vancouver have been far more impressive most areas than Colorado over the first two weeks of the season, siding with the home side to emerge victorious and extend their unbeaten run, at odds of +230, looks to the be the value play.
Eye catching player prop
Columbian youngster Deiber Caicedo is yet to score for Vancouver since swapping Columbia for Canada, but the exciting prospect, who is still just 20 years of age, has made a positive impression in the early weeks of the 2021 campaign.
Starting each of Vancouver’s first two fixtures, the winger has attacked with purpose. He has already averaging 0.20 xG per 90, which is useful for a wide player, while he has not been afraid to test opposition keepers, averaging 1.54 shots on target. If the Whitecap’s new number 7 continues in the same vein, it would be no surprise if he broke his duck against a Colorado backline that looked very weak last time out. At odds of +500, Caicedo is worth betting on to do just that.
So our predictions and betting picks for this preview are: