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    Vancouver Whitecaps looking to hit postseason with momentum and mental edge


    Michael Mccoll

    "It's vitally important," coach Carl Robinson told reporters on Thursday. "Getting into the playoffs is the first goal that we set and if you manage to get in then it's being in form when you're hitting the playoffs. You see, year in, year out, a number of teams that get into the playoffs, sneak into the playoffs, when they're not playing very well end up going out.

    "It's important that focus is maintained. It's important that you do get a bit of momentum going into the playoffs because it is a lottery when you get there. It's just a one off game or a two-legged game if you get past that first stage and anything can happen. It's still a long way off, and it's a hard trek to get there, but we're willing to meet the challenge head on."

    The playoff race in the West looks like it may go right down to the wire and Vancouver know that if they are to make it to the postseason they will have to do it by producing some of their best form in the remaining matches. It's a factor which left back Jordan Harvey feels that can only serve them well.

    "That is an advantage," Harvey admitted to AFTN. "If you do get on form these last four games leading into the playoffs, that's huge. That's what most teams are successful with. We have to get in form, we have to get some more points and that will allow us to carry that [form] in."

    If Vancouver can clinch fifth spot in the Western Conference, they will likely face a first round playoff match away to FC Dallas or Real Salt Lake.

    Last Saturday's defeat of RSL gave the Whitecaps a slight mental edge over one of their prospective postseason opponents and they are unbeaten against Real Salt Lake all season, including two hard-fought draws down in Utah. The 'Caps are hoping for more of the same mental boost when Dallas head to BC Place this weekend.

    For veteran defender Andy O'Brien that psychological side of the game is one of the important keys for the Whitecaps down the stretch and beyond.

    "I think you need to be composed, especially from a mental point of view because there's so much emphasis in getting into the playoffs," O'Brien said. "There's a lot of pressure to get in there and then once you're in there, you've got a job to do and it's not as if you down tools when you meet one objective.

    "It's got to be a progression thing. We want to go, if possible, into the playoffs with four good results now and take that on to whoever we may play should we get there. It's important that we keep ourselves mentally prepared and physically prepared for it."

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