Whitecaps FC-Chivas USA Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

Though the Vancouver Whitecaps were on a four-game unbeaten streak entering their last match, they badly needed a win and got one to strengthen their position in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Facing Chivas USA provides a perfect opportunity to pick up another three points.

Chivas has lost four straight, getting shut out in the previous three, going into its home matchup with the Whitecaps on Saturday night.

Vancouver (7-4-11) had strung together four draws before beating Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on Sunday for its second straight shutout. Darren Mattocks scored for the fourth time in five games and the Whitecaps benefited from an own goal that opened the scoring as they grabbed a two-point lead in the race for the final postseason spot.

Pedro Morales picked up his ninth assist of the season to tie the club record and David Ousted made two saves.

With Colorado and Portland two points behind Vancouver, coach Carl Robinson was hardly celebrating the win.

"The result is only a very good result if we follow it up with another good performance and a good road victory hopefully," Robinson told MLS' official website. "We know it's going to be a very tough game, a different game. We have to make sure we go into this game with the same mentality, mindset and focus that we did last Sunday."

The Whitecaps have lost twice in their last 16 matches, and their four defeats are tied for the fewest in the league. A game against Chivas could give them a good chance to remain atop MLS in that category.

Chivas (6-11-5) has fallen into the West cellar during a skid in which it's managed one goal and been blanked for the last 276 minutes. Fourteen of the club's MLS-low 21 goals have come from striker Erick Torres, who's tied for second in the league.

"We have to be aware of him," Mattocks said. "He's been fantastic. We have to take that into consideration. There are no weak teams in this conference. We have to approach every single game like it's a final."

Torres, though, has managed seven shots during the three consecutive shutouts after totaling 21 in the previous five - which were part of a six-game goal streak. Chivas has 66 shots on goal, by far the fewest in MLS.

Two goals in the first 39 minutes against Portland last Saturday put Chivas in a hole it had little chance of overcoming. The club had one shot on goal for the game.

"Going forward we didn't have that good mentality. That's something that we need to address otherwise it's going to be difficult for us," coach Wilmer Cabrera said. "If you don't have a good mentality going forward, if you don't create problems for the other team, they're going to be comfortable over the whole field and that was the first half."

Despite its poor play, Chivas took the first meeting of the season with Vancouver 3-1 on the road July 12 to give it a 1-0-2 mark in the last three matchups.

Torres has scored four times during a three-game goal streak in the series.