After our key game preview, here are BSN Rapid’s projected starting XI for each team leading up to Saturday’s contest.

Projected Lineups:

Colorado Rapids 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

Defense (left to right): Mekeil Williams, Axel Sjoberg, Bobby Burling, Eric Miller

Midfield: Sam Cronin, Jared Watts, Dillon Powers

Forwards: Shkelzen Gashi, Kevin Doyle, Marlon Hairston

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The Rapids big question mark going into this match is who plays in Micheal Azira’s place. Colorado’s defensive midfielder has been essential for the team’s exceptional defensive record thus far and has started every single league game this year. Replacing him will not be easy. Azira hasn’t just started every single Rapids league game thus far but all games (US Open Cup included) except for one.

The one game in which the Ugandan did not start was the June 14th US Open Cup match against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. In a sort of B-lineup, skipper Pablo Mastroeni started Dillon Powers and Sam Cronin in the central midfield playing a 4-4-2. Powers could replace Azira in this game as well, with Pappa playing the number ten role. That might be the lineup that unlocks Colorado’s goal scoring issues. More likely Mastroeni will opt for cover in the back and put Jared Watts in his original position. This would put Burling into the vacant central defense spot, a move that might be made regardless.

The full-backs are another question mark, especially after last Saturday’s struggles. Should Williams be fully fit, Mastroeni’s preferred duo has Williams on the left and Miller on the right. The rest is basically the same as we’ve seen in the last two games.

Rapids v VAN ONLY RAPIDS

Vancouver Whitecaps 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: David Ousted

Defense (left to right): Jordan Harvey, Tim Parker, Kendall Watson, Jordan Smith

Midfield: Andrew Jacobson, Matias Laba, Nicolas Mezquida

Forwards: Pedro Morales, Masato Kudo, Christian Bolanos

The lineup we’re projecting for Vancouver has the same back nine that the Caps played with on July ninth the last time these two teams met.

Right-back Jordan Smith is dangerous, but did start on Tuesday in a CONCACAF Champions League game and hasn’t started in two consecutive MLS games. If Smith were to be benched for rookie Cole Seiler, that could be a major advantage for the Rapids.

The two roles that I am projecting to be different from the last meeting between these teams are the number ten and the central forward position. Nicolas Mezquieda and Masato Kudo have been shaping into form in recent games and seem to be the likely choices.

Mezquida was used in Wednesday’s CCL contest so Vancouver could prefer veteran Blas Perez in that spot. However, if the plan is again for the Whitecaps to sit back and let the Rapids dominate possession, Mezquida is the logical choice as he’s also more dangerous on the counter-attack.

Stay tuned to BSN Rapids for all the latest updates on game lineups and other Rapids news for Saturday’s game.

Born in Boulder and raised in Milan, Italy like Danilo Gallinari. Also like Gallo, I moved to the States at 18; unlike Gallo, I wasn’t drafted by the Knicks but came to attend Western State Colorado University (go Mountaineers!). I graduated in 2009 with a major in Communications and Media and two minors in Journalism and Philosophy. After working in the linguistic field for a few years and listening to sports radio ALL DAY at work, I decided to do it myself and it changed my life around. (Now, I can say I couldn’t be happier and am proudly married to the love of my life Kate.) I moved back to Gunnison and started volunteering for the NPR affiliate up in Crested Butte, while also starting to contribute on an NFL podcast for playitusa.com. A 10 minute bit on one podcast turned into being a regular, year-round on three different podcasts on the NFL, College Football, and the NFL Draft. I’ve since started writing on trueblueblog.net and playitusa.com as well as writing in depth Draft analysis for footballnation.it in the past 3 years. I love the Draft and knowing the stars of the future before everyone else. My sports mount Rushmore is Terrell Davis, Patrick Roy, Italian soccer star Roberto Baggio, and John Elway, deal with it! Hit me up at @andresimone to talk NFL, NCAA football, NFL Draft, CSU football, Nuggets or anything else Colorado or Italy sports related.