After moving above the Western Conference playoff line, the Vancouver Whitecaps look to stay there by gaining a rare road win at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
The Whitecaps (9-11-6, 33 points) dominated the opening hour-plus of a 2-1 home win over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night to climb up to the seventh and final playoff spot in the West standings.
Ryan Gauld scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season before halftime, and Vancouver nearly added a third on multiple occasions before being forced to hold on after Colorado's Gyasi Zardes pulled one back in the 76th minute. Zardes had his header glance off the left goal post during the fourth minute of stoppage time.
"I think we played 70 minutes of fantastic soccer," Vancouver head coach Vanni Sartini said. "At the end, of course, they were throwing a lot of numbers (forward) and we played a very demanding game in the first 70 minutes in the sense that we were pressing every ball. The only missing piece was scoring the third goal."
The win was Vancouver's seventh at home, and the 10th time in 13 home games they have earned a point. But the Whitecaps have only won twice away from home this season, which has hindered their playoff aspirations.
Fifth-place Real Salt Lake (10-8-7, 37 points) pulled off a 2-1 victory on the road against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night on goals from Sergio Cordova and Andrew Brody. But they have lost their last two home games after beginning the year going unbeaten in their first 10 there.
Each of the two home defeats comes with a caveat.
Salt Lake dominated the creation of chances in a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas on July 23 but couldn't find an equalizer. Then they fell 4-1 on August 6 to Los Angeles FC, who have dominated all season as they pull away in the Supporters' Shield race and chase the all-time MLS points record.
RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath sees a common theme in those losses: conceding early goals.
"I think against Dallas we give up a goal in the first 15 (minutes), the same against LAFC." MacMath said. "If we can get through that first 15-20 minutes, especially at home, put the game on our terms, it puts us in a much better way to control the game."
--Field Level Media