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Vancouver Whitecaps face mission impossible after Real Salt Lake sink New England

Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic (1) reaches for the ball against Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio (13) during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER — The Whitecaps’ chances of making the playoffs are dire.

It all started well against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night. For 62 minutes the Caps held their own, and even took the lead in the 42nd minute. But Felipe’s goal was not enough, and Vancouver grumbled in the final stretch, conceding three goals between the 82nd minute and 97th minutes. 

Wasteful Whitecaps

“I thought for 60 to 65 minutes we were really in that game. I think we were right where we needed to be — a couple opportunities where our players needed to make better decision. In the end, we lost shape and made bad decisions,” interim coach Craig Dalrymple said after the match.

The Whitecaps dominated the game at times and had chances to put the game away, but striker Kei Kamara and winger Brek Shea, in particular, were too wasteful in front of the goal. 

“It was a bit of a boxing match early on. We tried to impose ourselves and they did the same. At halftime, there was a ton of belief in the dressing room. At the beginning of the second half, we were in control. Then in the 65th minute the tide turned,” Dalrymple told reporters at BC Place in a perfect summary of what happened. 

Whitecaps fall apart

“For the three games, we had a better shape. Our shape was right. The first two goals were preventable and was not due to the shape. The scoreline does not reflect that necessarily,” Dalrymple pointed out.

The 4-1 score may have been harsh, but Vancouver deflated like an air balloon after Sporting Kansas City equalized in the 62nd minute. That balloon popped in the last 15 minutes.

“The end of that game, that’s disappointing. That’s disappointing for us. That’s disappointing for you guys, for the people that support us, and it’s not acceptable. We know we need to turn that around, because the way we ended this game, that can’t happen again,” midfielder Russell Teibert told the media in an emotional plea after the game.  “Sometimes things can’t be explained, but I’m telling you now, as a promise: that’s not going to happen again at this club.”

The road ahead

Ahead of the match, the Whitecaps released a tweet that broke down the club’s chances of making the playoffs. The math was simple: win all three and the Caps are in the MLS Cup playoffs. 

The defeat, however, complicates things to such an extent that it is now unlikely the Whitecaps will have a postseason.

“They have to believe. I want players on that plane that want to believe. Eighteen players that still believe will be on the plane,” Dalrymple said, explaining his game plan ahead of what will be a complicated meeting Sunday against Los Angeles FC. 

“We plugged out everything positive out of the game and focused on that. I still believe in that changing room. There are some players coming off pleasing performances for their national teams,” Dalrymple concluded during his postgame press conference.

The question is, will that be enough?

The Caps had to hope that Real Salt Lake lose or draw both of their final games. On Thursday night RSL helped itself immensely by beating the New England Revolution 4-1 Thursday, however.

Mathematically, the Caps are not out yet, if Real Salt Lake lose its last game by a lot, and if the L.A. Galaxy draw or loses one of their two remaining games, while the Whitecaps score a bucket load of goals against LAFC on Sunday and then Portland on Oct. 28, to narrow that -14 gap of goals to RSL they can still get in.

On current form the Whitecaps running up the score in their last two games, however, is as likely as a snowball in hell. 

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