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A week of regional glory, silverware, and the coming out party of a young star has given the Whitecaps and their fans hope that the playoffs might be possible, after all.

After much doom and gloom in recent times, the past week or so has been a relief – and more than that, for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Entering last Wednesday's match against the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver had just two wins in 12, and looked destined to crash out of the Western Conference playoff picture in front of the baying crowd at CenturyLink Field.

Instead, the 'Caps thrashed their rivals comfortably in a 4-1 win, and rookie Kekuta Manneh provided the ammunition with a marvellously taken hat trick.

To top it all off, Vancouver walked away with the Cascadia Cup for finishing as the Pacific Northwest club with the best head-to-head record in 2013, after the Portland Timbers defeated the Sounders on Sunday.

Fairy tale stuff given the circumstances if you're a Whitecaps fan.

If the season were an individual match, this past week has been a sort of goal scored against the run of play. A counterattacking effort brilliant in its execution, but totally unexpected.

But now that this week has happened, and that metaphorical goal scored, it's about what this team can do with this newfound hope and optimism.

While the players and coaching staff have maintained mainly positive attitudes throughout times of adversity this season, there were times when that message seemed less than believable.

Whether the players believed it or not, going into this weekend's match against the Colorado Rapids we would likely have heard much of the same optimistic clichés trotted out before the game – but given the events over the past seven days, the players will genuinely feel they have a chance to go to Commerce City on Saturday and keep their playoff hopes alive.

That matters.

As for what the Whitecaps need to sneak into the playoffs, it may be less than many had predicted, after all.

The club sits on 45 points, three back of the Rapids in the fifth and final Western Conference playoff position. A win and a tie in their final two matches with Colorado could be enough to sneak them across the finish line, given they have the first tiebreaker of goals for on their side.

Still, other results could force Vancouver to require two wins – if the Galaxy claim at least a point Wednesday night against the Montreal Impact and then the San Jose Earthquakes defeat Los Angeles on Saturday, then a tie simply will not do.

The 'Caps will take confidence ahead of this weekend's road game from their last two road performances – a 3-0 win over the Impact on September 28 and last week's 4-1 drubbing of Seattle.

“One of the things that we talked about midway through the season is that we really need to do better on the road,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters following a training session at the University of British Columbia on Tuesday. “That's really the next stage of our development as a club is to really be a team that can more consistently win on the road and so we really worked hard on a few things and looked at them.

“I think that, certainly so far, it's helped us. We've scored seven goals in those two games, and we've only lost one. We need to continue building on that and if we do we're in a great position.”

It's high drama, and the reason we watch sport. And Vancouver isn't alone – as it stands, 15 of the league's 19 teams are still in contention to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.

Even the LA Galaxy, which sits in fourth place with 38 points, could conceivably win the Supporters Shield – or crash out of the playoffs altogether.

MLS has its detractors – mainly those who haven't spent much time watching it – but whatever the league's critics have to say, this competition provides one of the most level playing fields in North American sport – and that keeps fans in the majority of markets engaged until virtually the last kick.

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