MOSCOW – An injury to their leading goal scorer might not make it easy for the offensively challenged Vancouver Whitecaps to remain in playoff position.
The Whitecaps are likely to be without rookie of the year candidate Darren Mattocks as they try to snap a seven-match winless stretch Wednesday night at home against a Chivas USA squad looking to avoid losing a franchise-record seven in a row.
Though Vancouver (10-12-9) has a two-point lead over hard-charging FC Dallas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Whitecaps are 0-5-2 since a 2-1 home win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 11. Vancouver, which played Seattle to a scoreless draw Saturday, has recorded three goals during that stretch. Two of them came in a draw with Colorado on Sept. 23.
"We have to keep going and now we have to go find the net," defender Jay DeMerit told the Whitecaps' official website.
The latter might be even tougher to accomplish over the final three matches if Mattocks is out for a significant amount of time after he injured his hamstring against the Sounders. The Jamaican forward has seven goals though his first 19 MLS matches.
Vancouver also could be minus midfielder John Thorrington, who injured his hamstring Saturday. The veteran has produced one assist in 18 matches this season.
Despite those injuries, the Whitecaps remain optimistic they can secure a playoff berth in the franchise's second MLS season.
"I think the games can't come quick enough now," DeMerit said. "We're now looking forward to Wednesday. Three points is all we need."
Vancouver is 1-0-1 against Chivas (7-16-7) this season, with both contests played in California. DeMerit scored in the 68th minute of the Whitecaps' 1-0 win March 17, and the teams played to a scoreless draw July 7.
Though the Whitecaps expect to be short-handed up front, they might have a good chance to break out of their offensive funk against a Chivas club which has been outscored 14-1 while losing its last six matches.
Chivas' scoreless streak reached four matches and 442 minutes Saturday following its 4-0 home defeat to Real Salt Like. Last in the West, Chivas has not found the net since Nick LaBrocca scored in the eighth minute of a 1-all result at Seattle on Sept. 8.
Chivas has scored seven goals during an 0-8-2 stretch that dates to a 1-0 victory at Portland on July 28.
"It doesn't feel impossible, but it doesn't seem to be going our way in front of the goal," midfielder Peter Vagenas told Chivas' official website. "The only way to get out of that is to put your head down and continue to fight and try to manufacture something."
LaBrocca has Chivas' lone goal while its gone 0-1-3 in two seasons against the Whitecaps. The clubs played to a scoreless draw in their only meeting in Vancouver on April 16, 2011.