D.C. hopes to make up ground at Vancouver

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D.C. United controls its own destiny in the Major League Soccer postseason chase, but could not ensure the availability of its best player for Wednesday night's game at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario - who has 11 goals and seven assists in 15 games with United - played in World Cup qualifying Tuesday night, and is unlikely to feature for his club side.

Canada tied Puerto Rico, 0-0, at BMO Field in Toronto, and remains on track to advance in CONCACAF qualifying. D.C. is not in such great shape, even though a perfect end to the season would be enough to make the playoffs.

United (9-10-11) sits five points out of a playoff berth, but has two games in hand on Red Bull New York and the Houston Dynamo - the teams currently sitting in the last two postseason spots.

The Portland Timbers are also ahead of United, but a win at BC Place will move D.C. into 11th and also give it the edge on the expansion club.

Coach Ben Olsen admitted that United had "some talks with (De Rosario) and the (Canadian) federation," but he featured for the full 90 minutes Tuesday.

Olsen previously ruled De Rosario out of Wednesday's game if he played, adding "if that plays out, that's pretty much a long shot. ... that's just setting him up for injury."

United can lean on its strong road record - it has split its 38 points so far this season with 19 at home and 19 on the road - and a previous 4-0 victory in D.C. over Vancouver.

But in addition to not having De Rosario, Chris Pontius - who had two goals in the first meeting - is sidelined with a fractured tibia. And D.C. has lost two in a row for the first time since the second and third games of the season.

And although Vancouver (5-16-10) has the worst record in MLS, it has all five of its wins at home. However, the Whitecaps just recently moved into BC Place. Vancouver lost in its debut at BC Place, but downed Real Salt Lake 3-0 in its last game.

But if D.C. can escape Canada with three points, it returns home for its final three matches against the Chicago Fire, the Columbus Crew and Portland - three teams also battling to reach the postseason.

Vancouver snapped a three-match losing skid against Real Salt Lake, but it was up a man for the majority of the game and Camilo scored twice from the penalty spot. Nizar Khalfan added his first MLS goal.

"It was a complete performance, one of the few this season, so you take these games," Vancouver center back Jay DeMerit said, "and you make sure that you find out why that happened so you can experience that again."

Vancouver interim manager Tom Soehn, who used to coach United, will look for a better result in his second game against his old team, and may have solidified his defense with the addition of center back Carlyle Mitchell.

Mitchell paired with DeMerit against Real, and helped the Whitecaps post their fifth shutout of the season. Although it's been tough year for Vancouver, it's in position to play spoiler down the stretch.

"He gave us some bite and real athleticism," Soehn said about Mitchell. "He did a good job of communicating and holding a high line. We did a good job of staying organized, but all in all, I still go back to the group effort.

"It was a really good group performance."