To hear Eddie Gaven say it, you'd think the MetroStars were playing in the MLS Cup tomorrow.
But if the Metros have any hopes of the MLS Cup, or even just avoiding the Eastern Conference cellar, things need to change quickly.
"This is the season right now," Gaven said after Tuesday's training session. "We can say there's 13, 14 games left but if you fall into that mindset then pretty soon you're going to find that you run out of time. We have to play our best now and start getting some points. It starts with this game and we go forward after that."
The MetroStars take on FC Dallas in the final game before the All-Star break Wednesday night at Giants Stadium. And for the Metros, who have one win in their last six games, there is no more important game.
"We haven't played a bigger game this year," Mark Lisi said. "Not only for the (importance of getting) three points, but for the team morale, so we can start feeling good about ourselves again."
And Gaven knows he needs to break out of his personal funk.
"It definitely hasn't been the easiest of stretches personally," he said. "I haven't found too much of the ball and I know I have to pick up my game."
But it won't be easy. The Metros face an FC Dallas team which comes in tied for first place in the Western Conference and are anxious to put an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake behind them.
As if dealing with the likes of Carlos Ruiz, Eddie Johnson and Ronnie O'Brien isn't difficult enough, the MetroStars will have to do so with a severely limited roster in their fourth game in 11 days.
In addition to Amado Guevara, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his left knee, Tim Regan is out with a broken right foot and Ryan Suarez, who made his Metros debut in a 2-1 loss at San Jose on Saturday, is out with a strained medial collateral ligament.
Defender Tim Ward (left hamstring strain) is making progress, but he is still not ready for game action. However, he could be ready when the season resumes Aug. 6 at Dallas.
But there is some good news. Former French World Cup star Youri Djorkaeff is expected to be in the starting 11. It was erroneously reported that Djorkaeff returned to France to rehab his hamstring.
Djorkaeff's return would be welcome news for a MetroStars team desperate for a playmaker in the center of the park.
"He certainly has the capabilities to (be a playmaker)," Metros coach Bob Bradley said. "That's something he brings to the team."
Defensive midfielder Michael Bradley also returns after a one-game suspension for accumulation of caution points.
"Every team goes through it but the good teams still find a way to come away with points," Lisi said. "It's been a rough week for us, we lost to Columbus in the 90th minute and we lost to San Jose but we've got to put that behind us."
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.