Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC has an uphill battle to end its seven-game winless run as it welcomes the Los Angeles Galaxy to BC Place on Saturday.
The 'Caps made a bright start to the season by winning its first two matches, but they have not collected three points from a match since.
Things will not get any easier with hosting Los Angeles, a club that has claimed five more points than Vancouver despite playing one less match.
The Galaxy are coming off of a 1-0 home loss to the Houston Dynamo, a result that is sure to have the two-time defending champions highly motivated.
They have welcomed Robbie Keane and Todd Dunivant back to training this week, though it is unclear whether either will play a role in the club's trip north of the border or if they will be rested with eyes on the team's road trip to the east coast looming.
"They're looking good. Anything is possible," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena told the club's official website. "We're watching these players and they're heading back into full fitness so there is no reason to believe that they're not going to be a choice for one of these games."
Vancouver undoubtedly would prefer to host a Galaxy side that is without Keane. The 'Caps have conceded two goals in three straight MLS league matches and the proposition of allowing the Ireland international to run rampant in tandem with Landon Donovan cannot inspire a great deal of confidence.
The Whitecaps most recently suffered a 2-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake, a contest that set off alarm bells for midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker.
"Right now we have to face it and be realistic with the situation," Reo-Coker said after the defeat. "It's not about the coaches or management. It's time for us as players and for me, it was soft. Best way to describe us was soft. We were a soft team. We don't compete enough. We didn't compete enough today and we were just soft and that's the best way to put it.
"Being hard at football doesn't mean going around and tackling and smashing people, being hard means competing and being hard to beat, hard to face as an individual, helping your teammate out. We didn't do any of that today. So for me at the moment the realization of it is we have to be honest with ourselves we're soft and we need to toughen up, real quick."
Young-Pyo Lee echoed Reo-Coker's analysis, insisting that the Whitecaps have all of the pieces to compete at a high level and that they simply need to turn their fortunes around.
"Everything is perfect, we have good technical team, and we've been training well the past couple of days and we were better than today," Lee said after the defeat at RSL. "This problem is with our players as individuals. We need to think about our things mentally and focus on the next game."