They realize, however, that they let an opportunity get away on Saturday night as they lost 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids and dropped in the Western Conference standings.
"Obviously tonight was a chance to really put Colorado in a really tough spot because we're running out of games," Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie said. "What it does, it keeps everybody in it and keeps it really interesting."
Coming into the night, Colorado and Vancouver were tied for second place in the jam-packed conference.
The Rapids now have sole possession of second place. The Whitecaps slipped all the way to fifth with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Portland Timbers also picking up wins and passing them.
"Definitely it was an opportunity tonight to cement a place in the playoffs, come to a tough place against a good team," Whitecaps forward Kenny Miller said.
The Whitecaps, however, were unable to keep the momentum going after picking up four points (1-0-1) in their previous two games.
Colorado keeper Clint Irwin helped stop that momentum. He saw just three shots on goal — stopping them all — but also made solid plays to halt other Vancouver chances.
"The man of the match tonight was their goalkeeper and probably rightly so," Rennie said. "We had three or four great chances. We had one when it was nil-nil that was a great opportunity. We had another at nil-nil and in the end we lost a bad goal which changed the game a little bit."
The game-changing goal came in the 36th minute, when the Rapids' Deshorn Brown scored on a header. Vicente Sanchez lofted a crossing pass to Brown, who tucked the ball inside the left post, just above the head of Whitecaps' keeper David Ousted.
Rennie said the Whitecaps lost Brown on the back side and it was an easy crossing pass for the Rapids.
"We haven't lost many goals like that, which is a good thing," he said.
Brown's goal came just two minutes after the Whitecaps' best scoring chance of the night. Russell Teibert delivered a pass to Miller, but Irwin was there for the save.
"I tried to angle it back across the goal so (teammate Camilo Sanvezzo) could tap it in," Miller said. "I think the keeper got a left leg on it to stop it going past. We had a couple of opportunities like that where we could have maybe played someone and the pass just wasn't there."
The Rapids added an insurance goal in the 80th minute as substitution Edson Buddle drilled a shot that deflected off the inside part of the legs of Whitecaps defender Johnny Leveron. That deflection was enough to change the direction of the shot and get it past Ousted.
Miller said the Whitecaps have had a lot of games this year in which they've rallied to get a win or draw, but against the Rapids, he said, "There didn't seem to be that reaction and that belief that we could do it."
Rennie added: "I'd like to have seen us be more direct and put them under more pressure."
Colorado tallied 17 shots, five of those on net, while the Whitecaps had just nine shots, with three on net.
Still, with 10 games to play — including the last two against the Rapids — and weekly movement in the standings, the Whitecaps said they simply need to bounce back against the Galaxy on Aug. 24 at B.C. Place.
"It's an off night," Miller said. "We've not had too many off nights in the last three, four months, so we'll just have to regroup and make sure we're back next week."