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San Jose the focus, but eye also on Vancouver

FRISCO – When asked how closely they’re watching the results of the Vancouver Whitecaps, two points ahead of them for the final playoff spot, most associated with FC Dallas will give a political answer about only focusing on their own business at hand.

Yeah, right.

With the Western Conference playoff race as tight as it is for FCD and Vancouver, this weekend’s results will play a huge part in deciding who gains the pole position for the fifth playoff spot. The Whitecaps host Cascadia rivals Seattle on Saturday (8 pm CT on NBC Sports Network), while FC Dallas heads to San Jose (9:30 pm CT on TXA21).

“It’s one of those things that we’re watching Vancouver out of the corner of our eye,” goalkeeper Kevin Hartman said. “We know that we’ve got four results left and if we’re able to capture a majority of those points, then we have a very good chance of making it in.”

The fact is, despite how well FC Dallas have done over the past six weeks, the playoffs would be an afterthought for FCD had their rivals to the northwest not hit a mammoth-sized bump in the road. The Whitecaps have just one point from their last six games, two of those losses to Dallas.

“I think right now, [scoreboard watching] makes sense,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “Not only to see what you’re doing but what your competitors are doing. … Right now, we’re obviously focusing on the final playoff spot, and the team that has that No. 5 spot is Vancouver. Of course we’re going to put our attention on them.”

Adding a little bit of spice to the match for Dallas, the Whitecaps game kicks off 90 minutes before FCD, giving them a little bit of an idea how things are going in the Pacific Northwest before they take the field at Buck Shaw Stadium. It’s certainly interesting to speculate how the news of the Vancouver result will affect Dallas as they come out from halftime as well.

“I think we’re fairly fortunate to be where we are right now to keep hoping for additional things to go our way,” Hartman said. “[A negative result for Vancouver] would be nice, but it’s certainly not something we’re counting on. I think as professionals, we have to concentrate on the things we can affect.”

Sitting two points behind Vancouver, a loss or draw for the Whitecaps coupled with an unlikely win for Dallas in San Jose would mean FCD moving into a playoff spot for the first time since late April, just eight games into the season.

“Of course you look to see what’s going on and see what your standing is after games,” defender Matt Hedges said after practice on Wednesday. “But other than that, you’ve just got to focus on your job and for us, that’s beating San Jose.”