Whitecaps FC-Real Salt Lake Preview


The Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake head into their regular-season finale Saturday night in Utah with their postseason opponents already decided.

While Salt Lake has a chance to improve its seeding, Vancouver is hoping for a positive result to restore its confidence before the playoffs begin.

The Whitecaps (11-13-9) are the first Canadian team to qualify for the MLS playoffs, but a rough stretch has them backing into the postseason. They're 1-6-2 since Camilo had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 home win over Salt Lake on Aug. 11.

With Saturday's 1-0 loss to Portland, the Whitecaps missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth. Dallas' loss at Seattle later that night gave Vancouver the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

"That's frustrating because we think the team is just where we want it to be and then we put together a performance like that. We let a lot of people down,'' said coach Martin Rennie, whose team will visit Los Angeles in the knockout round. "We had a big chance to move ourselves into the playoffs and move the club forward because there's so much interest right now. We didn't really take advantage of it.''

The slump hasn't been for a lack of effort, though Vancouver will need to step up its game if it plans on making any sort of postseason run.

"I would never accuse any of our players of not caring or not fighting or what have you," midfielder John Thorrington said. "For whatever reason, it just didn't come together for us on the day. Which sometimes happens - unfortunately it's happened a few too many times this season."

Defender Jay DeMerit said the Whitecaps need to get back on track Saturday in preparation for the playoffs.

"Guys have to look within themselves and find out how much they want these types of things," DeMerit said. "You can 'hoo rah' in the dressing room, but when it comes down to it, it's about guys taking responsibility for their jobs and making sure they do them.

"I'm excited to see how we respond."

Real Salt Lake (17-11-5) also is headed to the West playoffs and will face Seattle, though the teams are tied with 56 points and the Sounders hold a five-goal advantage for the tiebreaker. A Salt Lake victory or draw, coupled with a Seattle loss to the Galaxy would give RSL the No. 2 seed.

Salt Lake and Seattle played to a scoreless draw in RSL's most recent MLS match Oct. 17, snapping Salt Lake's three-game winning streak. RSL managed just four shots on goal despite holding a one-man advantage for the last 60 minutes.

"I'm also a bit of a perfectionist, and to be up a man for 60-odd minutes, we probably should have scored a goal and win the game,'' coach Jason Kreis said.

Alvaro Saborio scored twice to give RSL a 2-1 home win over Vancouver on July 27.