Santa Clara, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC will try to take another step toward the postseason on Saturday with a win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.
With two games to play the Whitecaps hold a one-point lead on the Portland Timbers for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and a win on Saturday could even potentially clinch the last spot.
A loss by Portland to Real Salt Lake on Friday combined with a Whitecaps win on Saturday would put Vancouver into the postseason for the second time in three years, while Vancouver can still secure a postseason berth with wins over San Jose and Colorado regardless of what the Timbers do.
Both the Earthquakes and Rapids are in the midst of serious slumps, but head coach Carl Robinson has warned his side to be careful of overlooking Saturday's opponent.
"Two very difficult games for different reasons," Robinson said when asked about the final two games of Vancouver's season. "It's two games that we've got to have the right mentality approaching. San Jose on Saturday have got nothing to lose, we've got everything to lose, so we've got to make sure that our mentality is right, the discipline is correct and we go out and play because on our day we can go out and beat anyone."
Vancouver has been in great form recently, winning three straight games against playoff teams in the Western Conference.
The latest victory came in a 1-0 triumph over Seattle as Kekuta Manneh scored the lone goal on the stroke of halftime, while the Whitecaps made the lead hold up to secure a second straight clean sheet.
A good defensive record recently has been a big part of Vancouver's success with the team having shipped just one goal in the past three matches.
San Jose, meanwhile, has lost its last three games and brings a 13-match winless skid into Saturday's fixture.
A 1-0 win over Seattle on Aug. 2 is the last time San Jose managed to win a game in league play, and with just three goals in the last seven games, the Earthquakes obviously know where to place much of the blame for their struggles.
San Jose enters the weekend on the bottom of the Western Conference table, one point back of Chivas USA, and at this point, just avoiding a last-place finish is the only real motivation for Mark Watson's men.