Whitecaps eye crucial points against RSL

4:30 PM, Sep 27, 2013   |    comments
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Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC is running out of time in its pursuit of a Western Conference playoff spot, and the team faces a crucial match against second-place Real Salt Lake at BC Place on Saturday.

The Whitecaps have five games remaining in the season and the club sits four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference at the start of the weekend.

A five-game winless streak dropped Vancouver down the table and out of a playoff spot, but Martin Rennie's group rebounded to win 3-0 at Montreal last weekend, breathing life back into the team's playoff aspirations.

Camilo Sanvezzo scored twice in the win over the Impact, marking his first goals since Aug. 10 as he came off the bench following an injury absence.

A return to form for Camilo would be a big boost for Vancouver, and it might just be crucial after fellow forward Kenny Miller sustained an adductor injury in the win over Montreal, which could open up a spot in the starting lineup.

"Ultimately Kenny and Camilo have scored a lot of goals for us this season," Rennie told a Vancouver radio station following the win last weekend. "Playing the way they were there, there's every chance they can go and add to that and really put a high number up there.

"These players have done well, and we do rely on them, and today they came through and made a big difference."

Salt Lake will be trying to snap a two-game losing skid that has dropped the team two points back of conference leaders Seattle with RSL having played two more games.

The back-to-back defeats have made winning the Supporters' Shield difficult, but midfielder Javier Morales feels that now is the time for RSL to simply focus on improving ahead of the postseason.

"It's a little bit hard," Morales said of RSL's chances of winning the Supporters' Shield. "We have to be realistic. Right now it's going to be hard. Seattle has more points than us in fewer games than us. Now we have to focus and improve our soccer and our team. If we want to be in the MLS Cup we have a lot of work."

Part of that work will involve rediscovering the scoring touch that RSL had at the end of August as the team scored 11 goals in a three-game span.

However, Salt Lake has found the net just once in the last two games, while the team has struggled to defend set pieces recently as well.

In a 2-1 defeat to San Jose last time out RSL conceded both goals from set pieces, and head coach Jason Kreis knows his side must improve its concentration in those situations.

"It's about whether or not you're going to make a play against your mark. It's about whether you're going to be physically outmuscled by the forward that you're marking, or whether you're going to take that extra half a second to nap," Kreis said. "That means he gets behind you, and he's going to have a chance. For me, we can work on it in training all we want, but in the game it just comes down to focus and commitment."

There is only three points separating Salt Lake from fifth-place Colorado, so Kreis and his team must figure out these things quickly.

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