The Vancouver Whitecaps' postseason hopes were all but extinguished with their 1-0 loss at the Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon.
The defeat, coupled with Portland's home win over Philadelphia and Sporting KC's draw with the LA Galaxy, leaves Vancouver sitting six points out of the playoff places in the West with just four games remaining.
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson had described his team's chances of making the playoffs as an "uphill battle" heading into yesterday's Cascadian derby. That hill is now looking like Mount Everest. But as bleak as it looks, he hasn't given up all hope just yet.
"We will keep fighting till the very end," Robinson told TSN Radio after the match. "We're a proud group of players. We're lucky to be playing football for this football club and we will not stop fighting until the very end.
"Unfortunately it's out of our hands now, but if we perform like [we did against Seattle] in the next four games, and concentrate on what we can do, then who knows? Football's a funny game."
That's the public stance. Realistically, Robinson may have to concede that the Whitecaps season has all but been put to rest.
The Seattle game was pretty typical of the Whitecaps' season. They had their chances, the closest being when Giles Barnes hit the post midway through the second half, but ultimately they switched off for a second defensively and were punished.
"You could say that," said goalkeeper David Ousted when asked if the match pretty well summed up Vancouver's 2016. "We have definitely let in some bad goals this year and also we haven’t scored on our chances. We were inches away today on a great strike by Giles. If that goes in we are talking a different game. It is all the difference. We need to access it."
The question now for the 'Caps is how they treat the remainder of their league games. Do they throw in their young players to get some valuable experience for the next campaign, or do they let their regular first-teamers see the season out and show that they deserve to be at the club next season?
Robinson indicated that it was more likely to be the latter. But his message was clear to his whole squad: Every player has to show that they want and deserve to be a Whitecap.
"I said to them after Kansas City, maybe six weeks ago, that I wanted a response, because I thought we lost the game and we limped over the line in a defeat and I don't like that about my team," stated Robinson. "If you want to play for this organization, you've got to be proud to play for this organization. In the six weeks, they've responded very well. They've shown attitude, application.
"We haven't had the luck we needed, we haven't taken as many chances as we should've and we've lost points on the board. But we know where we are. The commitment of that lot has got to continue for the next four games, because if you want to be here, you've got to show that commitment."