VANCOUVER - It was the miss that could have made a big difference in the Vancouver Whitecaps' bid for a playoff before.
Now, with three games to go in the Major League Soccer regular season, the Whitecaps (10-12-9) are hoping Brazilian striker Camilo — and others — will connect on their scoring chances more in Wednesday's contest against Chivas USA (7-16-7) at B.C. Place.
"It is a final for us," Camilo after practice Tuesday. "We need to win this game, because we have Dallas very close. This game is very important for us."
Camilo missed what he called a "golden chance" in the dying seconds of Saturday's 0-0 home tie with the Seattle Sounders. Standing home-free at the near post, he took a pass from Kenny Miller — but fired wide of the far post. As a result, the Whitecaps maintained their precarious two-point lead over Dallas when they could have moved five up.
Camilo is expected to play an important role again, because top scorer Darren Mattocks is nursing a hamstring injury that forced him to leave Saturday's game in the first half. Although the Whitecaps posted back-to-back ties, they are winless in seven games and have scored only three goals in that span.
But Camilo, who has struggled this season after leading the team with 12 goals in 2011, is vowing not to let his miss get to him.
"That night, I was very sorry for the miss," he said. "But now, my focus is the next game. Soccer is like that. The game can change very fast. In this game, I'll try to score to help my team."
The 24-year-old, who prefers to play on the left wing but may be used in the middle Wednesday in a more traditional two-striker formation, has just four goals this season. He admitted he lost his confidence as a result of a quadriceps injury, but added he has worked hard to regain it.
The team's lack of scoring, he said, has mirrored his own.
"I didn't play well, but I didn't play bad," he said. "I didn't have the season I wanted to for the Whitecaps. But now it's time me and the Whitecaps to finish the season (well). We are very close to (making) the playoffs, and the playoffs is another championship."
His resurgence would be timely depending on how long Mattocks remains out.
After Saturday's game, Mattocks doubted he would play in this game. After Wednesday's contest, the Whitecaps do not play again until Oct. 21 against Portland. Mattocks might have a better chance for a full recovery if he sits out. But coach Martin Rennie said Mattocks has made good progress and refused to say whether he was in or out.
Either way, the Whitecaps are looking for more offence.
"Obviously, against Colorado, it was quite good," said Rennie. "We scored two goals (in a 2-2 tie) and created a few good chances. I think that Seattle was a tighter game overall, but I think that there was things that we could improve on in the final third with the wingers that were getting balls into the box, the number of people that were in the box. Just our final pass could have improved. But some of that was because Seattle defended well. ...
"There's definitely room for improvement there," he continued. "We've worked on that the last two days. We've looked at a lot of film and we've made it clear what we want on the field."
The coach said he is not worried that Camilo's miss will haunt him.
"He's probably the best finisher on the club," said Rennie. "He's got a lot of good movement, good trickery. I really like Camilo."
The fact that Camilo was in position to score was a good sign, Rennie indicated.
"Players need to be in positions to miss chances," said Rennie. "We need to create chances so that if we miss a couple, we score some as well. I'm not concerned at all. He's a very good player."
Meanwhile, Matt Watson is expected to start in place of John Thorrington in midfield. Thorrington also went down with a hamstring injury in the first half Saturday, and Rennie said he will "struggle" if he plays.
"It's a good opportunity for (Watson), and it's up to him to take it," said Rennie.
Note: Vancouver left winger Omar Salgado, recovering from a broken foot, will likely play a game with the reserve team before he returns to MLS.