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MLS Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 (All times Eastern)

Colorado (9-18-2) at Vancouver (10-12-7), 7:30 p.m.

Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC returns home for the first time in more than a month Sunday to host the Colorado Rapids, and will try to start a run that will preserve its playoff hopes.

Vancouver lost its last five matches, the final four on the road, as its grasp on a postseason berth nearly slipped away.

But back at BC Place for the first time since mid-August, the Whitecaps start a stretch of four straight home matches that will ultimately determine whether the club reaches the second season.

Vancouver (10-12-7) is still fifth in the Western Conference, but FC Dallas is now just one point back for the final playoff spot after the Texas club pulled out a 1-0 win last weekend when the teams met at FC Dallas Stadium.

"Both teams left everything on the field and obviously for us it is disappointing to come out of it on the wrong end of the result, but I am very proud of my players," Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said. "It gives me a lot of confidence going into the final stretch of the season."

With a strong home record, the Whitecaps hope a new streak at home is enough. The 'Caps are 7-2-4 this year in Vancouver, and Colorado (9-18-2) visits with an abysmal 2-13-0 road record.

Vancouver hopes to have rookie Darren Mattocks back in the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 18 against Seattle Sounders FC. Mattocks has a team- high seven goals in just 17 matches, 12 starts.

Mattocks would provide a needed boost, but the main focus this week is just on getting the full points against the Rapids. Vancouver continues its homestand against Seattle, and also plays Chivas USA and the Portland Timbers.

With enough points from its next four matches, the season finale at Real Salt lake could become irrelevant for the Whitecaps.

Colorado has just three wins and 10 points from its last 16 MLS games, but is just eight points out of a playoff berth. Although unlikely, the Rapids could turn around a miserable first season under Oscar Pareja down the stretch.

But for that to happen, Colorado needs a win in Vancouver.

09/21 18:12:46 ET