(Photo credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
The Vancouver Whitecaps have been slipping down the standings at the wrong time.
There's a good chance to reverse that trend awaiting the Whitecaps when they visit the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night in Commerce City, Colo.
While it's too late for the Rapids to make things right, the Whitecaps can still qualify for the playoffs.
Vancouver (11-10-8, 41 points) is only four points out of second place in the Western Conference with a match in hand. But for now, the team sits tied for seventh place, so there's plenty of potential for movement either direction.
"If you want to go to the playoffs, if you want to win games in the playoffs, (those) are going to be fine-margin games and we need to be better," Vancouver coach Vanni Sartini said. "And we haven't been better at the ends of the field on both sides."
The Rapids (4-15-10, 22 points) are in last place in the Western Conference. From Vancouver's standpoint, it's time to pounce.
"It must be an opportunity to make points," Sartini said. "I told the guys I don't want to see long faces. I want to see angry faces."
The Rapids won only one of their last eight matches (1-5-2), but at least there has been more production offensively. After suffering three consecutive shutouts, the Rapids have posted a total of five goals in their last three matches.
"We're disappointed," said Chris Little, who became interim coach of the Rapids earlier this month. "We feel as though we've let ourselves down as a staff, as players. It has not been a season we wanted."
Midfielder Cole Bassett, who has a team-high four goals this year and two goals in the last three games, said the Rapids haven't been able to get in sync.
"We don't have enough guys stepping up," Bassett said.
Playing time could become a notable topic for the Rapids. Little is challenging the players.
"You earn the right to play by competing for first balls and winning second balls," Little said. "It's kind of all the dirty work that sometimes goes unnoticed."
Vancouver scoring leader Brian White has 12 goals, with four of those in the last six matches.
The Rapids and Whitecaps played to a 0-0 draw April 29 in Vancouver.
--Field Level Media