MLS Preview: Colorado Rapids - Vancouver Whitecaps

The Whitecaps can pass the Rapids for the final Western Conference playoff spot with a win Saturday as they kick off a home-and-home series to cap the regular season.
Two short weeks ago, the Colorado Rapids were a force to be reckoned with and the Vancouver Whitecaps were all but done. But in the congested Western Conference playoff race, it didn't take long to reshape that picture.

With a win Saturday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Whitecaps can actually draw even with the Rapids — and pass them for the final playoff spot on the total goals tiebreaker. That would put Vancouver in excellent shape as it prepares to conclude the season — and an oddly timed home-and-home series — at BC Place against Colorado.

Although Vancouver's odds seemed slim going into last weekend, a stunning 4-1 win at the Seattle Sounders coupled with Colorado's loss to the San Jose Earthquakes gave the Whitecaps new life. But they will still be eliminated with a loss to Colorado on Saturday.

Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie has a lineup dilemma up top, as he must figure out how (or if) he wants to get forwards Camilo, Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh on the field together. His typical 4-3-3 could do the job, but after watching Manneh notch a hat trick while playing in a 4-4-2 against Seattle, he could be tempted to stick with that alignment.

Also factoring into the equation is striker Kenny Miller, who seems poised for a role off the bench as he works his way back from an adductor injury.

The returns of Gabriel Torres and Deshorn Brown from international duty present Rapids coach Oscar Pareja with his own set of questions, though it seems likely the pair will step back into the lineup at the expense of Edson Buddle and Atiba Harris.