The Colorado Rapids have survived an unsteady start and will look to continue their recent improvement when they visit the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night.
The Rapids are 3-1-3 over their last seven matches and reside in 10th place in the Western Conference. But they are just two points below the playoff line.
Colorado (8-9-7, 31 points) posted a conference-best 61 points last season but was unable to follow up the success earlier this season. But after accumulating 12 points over their last seven matches, the Rapids are suddenly a dangerous squad.
Forward Diego Rubio has been leading the way with one goal in each of the past three matches. He scored his career-best 12th goal in last Saturday's 1-1 home draw with the Columbus Crew.
"It's always important to win -- it doesn't matter against who sometimes, you win when you have this mentality," Rubio told reporters. "... When you go against teams that are in the playoffs already, you go as hard as you can, but I think that mentality has to be every week, every game."
Vancouver (8-11-6, 30 points) is right behind the Rapids in 11th place in the West. The Whitecaps are struggling with a 1-3-3 mark over their past seven matches.
Vancouver is coming off a 5-2 setback to the host Los Angeles Galaxy last Saturday. Ryan Gauld and Tosaint Ricketts scored the Whitecaps' goals.
But the Galaxy scored three goals in the first 30 minutes and the outcome was never again in doubt.
"It's frustrating when you go behind early and you're chasing the game (from) the first minutes," Ricketts said afterward.
Forward Lucas Cavallini will return to the lineup after missing the Galaxy match due to a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. He has a team-best eight goals.
The Whitecaps have played strong at home with a 6-3-3 record. Colorado has been abysmal on the road (1-7-3).
This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Rapids host Vancouver on Sept. 10.
--Field Level Media