DC United's trip to Vancouver critical to playoff hopes

D.C. United’s first-ever trip to Vancouver comes at a critical juncture in their season.

Five points outside of the final playoff spot, D.C. need to find a way to snap a two-game losing streak and get all three points at the Whitecaps’ new BC Place on Wednesday night. (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online)

They’ll be up against a resurgent ‘Caps team already out of playoff contention, and a side they defeated 4-0 back at RFK Stadium in August.

“That’s always a dangerous thing when you’re playing a team that’s out of it,” head coach Ben Olsen said last week. “Some teams roll over and some teams have nothing to lose. They’ve got a brand new stadium that has created a huge buzz, so they’re going to be flying and probably motivated from what happened [in D.C.].”

United made the cross-country trip on Monday in preparation for the midweek clash, although they traveled without central defender Dejan Jakovic, who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

However, defender Ethan White did make the trip and is available to play after sitting out last week’s 2-1 loss against Columbus with a knee injury. The rookie center back is listed as probable and is likely to be paired with Brandon McDonald, who also missed the defeat in Columbus because of yellow card accumulation.

After failing to get results in their last two games, much is at stake for D.C. While a loss to Vancouver wouldn’t knock them from playoff contention, it certainly would make things even more difficult heading into the final three games of the season.

“We certainly left some points out there with Philly and Columbus,” forward Josh Wolff said. “Both games we were in position to get something out of it and we came away with nothing. Moving forward, that can’t happen, you can’t afford to lose or leave any points in the next four games.”

With that in mind, Olsen is hoping for the required effort and performance down the stretch, starting Wednesday in Vancouver.

“Hopefully we’re pretty motivated – I don’t know how we can’t be,” he said. “We know what we have to do in the next four games, and hopefully the commitment and all that stuff will be there. I expect it will.”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.