Orlando City, Whitecaps head in opposite directions

With the midway point of the 2018 season and the two-week break for the World Cup looming, two teams currently holding on to tenuous spots above the playoff cutline will meet this weekend in Vancouver.

But the Vancouver Whitecaps (5-5-5), sixth in the Western Conference, and the Orlando City SC Lions (6-6-1), sixth in the East, are on different trajectories as they meet Saturday at B.C. Place.

While the Whitecaps enter the match after a 2-1 win over Colorado that followed four consecutive draws, Orlando City has a four-game losing streak in MLS.

The difference between those trajectories, according to Vancouver coach Carl Robinson, is a “fine line.”

“When I say the game is about small margins and indifferent moments and individual moments and mistakes,” Robinson told the Vancouver Sun, “I think some people think that managers use it as an excuse or a deflection.

“The reality is, in this league, it is so tight,” he said. “Orlando went on a six-game run, and if you listen to their manager, he says that they didn’t deserve to win some of the games that they did, but they were getting the breaks.

“I’m sure it’s the same now that they’ve lost a couple of games in a row — they’re not getting the breaks.”

The Whitecaps get a scheduling break over the next month; their next seven opponents currently have worse records.

“This is the time to do it,” Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert said. “We’ve given up a lot of points this year, for reasons that we can’t explain or don’t understand. If we took points from the games that we should have won, we could be close to or at the top of the table, but we’ve just thrown away points.

“You could say it’s a learning lesson, you could say this is what we need to learn from moving forward in the later stages of the season, but the reality is, we’ve given up those points and you can’t get them back. You have to focus on the next half of the season.”

Orlando City began a 10-day road trip with a 3-0 U.S. Open Cup win over Miami United on Wednesday. The Lions then boarded a 2,800-mile flight to Vancouver.

Striker Dom Dwyer and Lamine Sane, both of whom have been dealing with injuries, will travel with the team, Orlando coach Jason Kreis said.

“It’ll be nice to have our experienced players back in the team,” midfielder Sacha Kljestan said, according to Pro Soccer USA.

“Good guys to be around. We’re traveling with the very big group for the next 10 days or so as we go one this road trip. I think it’ll be a nice bonding trip for everybody to be around each other.”

Dwyer, who suffered an adductor strain, trained fully with the team on Tuesday, Kreis said. The team hoped Sane (knee) would be available “in the near future.”

Team captain Jonathan Spector, who had a concussion, also returned to practice and is traveling to Canada.

“We’re taking everybody with the mindset that the players that are injured are so close to coming back that the work that doing is best done on the field and with the staff that’s all going,” Kreis said. “Of course, the hope is that those guys will come back over the next eight days and be prepared and ready for Montreal.”