The San Jose Earthquakes, who have some newfound momentum, will look to record their third straight victory when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday.
The ninth-place Earthquakes (4-6-5, 17 points) are just one point behind the playoff line in the West -- Real Salt Lake sits in eighth place -- after posting consecutive 2-1 victories over Los Angeles FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The impressive results follow an nine-match regular-season stretch in which San Jose went 0-6-3.
"I think getting into a playoff spot is what that is right now," defender Nick Lima told reporters of the quest, "and we go out there each game with that goal in the back of our minds. We're trying to get that."
The Whitecaps (5-10-0, 15 points) are in the midst of a three-game slide in which they have been outscored 10-1. They dropped a 3-1 decision against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
The rough span has increased speculation that second-year coach Marc Dos Santos might not be retained following the season. Vancouver is 13-26-10 during his tenure.
"I can't control what people outside think," Dos Santos said. "I respect the opinion of everybody. You have to talk to the club about that, not me. You have to talk to people who make decisions. I have another year on my contract and I want to be here."
Part of the challenge for the Whitecaps is not being able to play at home in Vancouver due to Canada's COVID-19 travel protocols.
The team is being housed in Portland for the rest of the season as it tries to chase down a playoff spot.
"We're up against a lot of adversity," forward Tosaint Ricketts said. "We're away from home for a lot of games and it's a battle. ... We still have opportunity here. There is a lot to play for."
The Earthquakes share that thought -- especially after a double dose of feel-good victories.
"We felt joy," San Jose coach Matias Almeyda said after the Saturday win over the Galaxy. "The players in these last two games have given a whole lot. They are believing more in themselves."
The turnaround follows a stretch in which the Earthquakes lost by five or more goals three times in a five-game span.
--Field Level Media