D.C. United will hope to build upon its second victory of the season when it welcomes Vancouver Whitecaps FC to RFK Stadium on Saturday.
United put an end to its abysmal 13-game winless run last weekend by picking up a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
The club has not had much to celebrate this season as it comes into the weekend at the bottom of the Eastern Conference on nine points.
But after further examination, D.C. appears to be heading in the right direction; United has lost just once in its last five outings across all competitions. Ben Olsen's men followed up Saturday's defeat of San Jose with a 3-1 victory over the New England Revolution on Wednesday to advance to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
"I'm excited about the last couple of weeks, and we've seen (the team) moving in the right direction," Olsen said after the Open Cup win. "These guys deserve a little bit of joy right now. It's been a tough time, and we seem to have (regained) our health. Some young guys are also stepping in and doing the job. Conor Shanosky gets another win, (Taylor) Kemp comes in and helps us, Casey (Townsend) comes in and helps us, (Lionard) Pajoy comes in and helps us, so everybody's contributing right now, and I think the spirit is good.
"Can we turn it around now against Vancouver (on Saturday)? Again, putting so much into (the Open Cup) to get a result - we're going to have to make some changes. But I think our spirit right now (will allow us) to start doing a little bit better in the league."
United's task of improving its league form starts with the objective of containing a surging Whitecaps offense.
Vancouver has won two straight league contests by a combined score of 7-4 with strikers Kenny Miller and Camilo Sanvezzo playing starring roles worthy of back-to-back Player of the Week honors. Miller bagged a brace in Vancouver's 4-3 victory over the Revs on June 15 while Sanvezzo produced two goals and an assist for the 'Caps in their 3-1 defeat of Chivas USA on June 19.
The victory over Chivas was a positive sign for head coach Martin Rennie, who was pleased to see his side avoid a hangover from the defeat of New England.
"Coming off a big game on Saturday where it was such a lively game with a lot of energy used, sometimes the next game can be a bit flat especially when it comes so soon but we didn't succumb to that so in the end I thought it was an excellent win, fourth in our last six, so with a few days off we can enjoy those days a lot more after (Wednesday night)," Rennie said.
Vancouver comes into Saturday's fixture off of a short break having not played since last Wednesday's win over Chivas. United, by comparison, has played twice since the 'Caps last took to the pitch.
But according to Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert, a break during a good run of form is not always ideal.
"I'd rather keep playing, to be honest," Teibert said. "I'm working hard and putting myself in the right places. As a team we're on a roll - but I'll take the rest."