VANCOUVER, B.C. – It was a game that had it all for the neutral, but Sunday's 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers means the Whitecaps must now likely win all three of their final matches to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.
Sunday's result gives the 'Caps 42 points, six points back of the fifth and final Western Conference spot occupied by the Colorado Rapids.
Vancouver takes on the Seattle Sounders Wednesday before going away to Colorado and then finishing up against the Rapids at BC Place in the final game of the campaign.
So can the Whitecaps, who have struggled mightily of late with just two wins in their last 10 matches, find a way to win three on the hop and get into the postseason party?
“Playing like that, it can be done,” head coach Martin Rennie insisted afterward, focusing on his team’s rampant last 15 minutes. “What a threat we were, with [Darren] Mattocks, Camilo [Sanvezzo], Kekuta [Manneh] and at times with Daigo [Kobayashi], what a threat. I think if we get those kind of players on the field and if we get Russell [Teibert] probably doing what he was doing a little bit earlier in the game, then we have a fantastic chance to do that.
“It's obviously a big ask, but we want to make sure now we focus on Wednesday.”
If the Whitecaps do play like they did Sunday, the final three matches will at the very least be entertaining. Camilo's 76th minute free kick, and then his scissor kick from 16 yards out two minutes later were truly spectacular.
The club could have walked out of the match with a win had it not been for several outstanding saves from Donovan Ricketts, who pulled off a fantastic double save on Manneh and Camilo in the 75th minute, before making two equally good saves in stoppage time on Lee Young-Pyo and Mattocks.
“If I was sitting in the stands I think I would be going home a very happy fan, but unfortunately for us their 'keeper makes two world-class saves,” captain Jay DeMerit told reporters following the match. “They should be making a statue of Donovan Ricketts in Portland right now, because he's definitely kept them in it, which is disappointing for us, because that was a game where we should have taken three points.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.