VANCOUVER, BC – This is what we’ve all be waiting for.
After a dramatic win in their regular season finale, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (12W-8L-14D) are set to kick off their 2014 MLS Cup Playoff campaign on Wednesday night when they visit FC Dallas (16W-12L-6D) in a single-game Knockout Round match at Toyota Stadium.
Kickoff for Wednesday’s match set for 6 p.m. PT. You can watch the match live on TSN1 (including a pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT), Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TSN 1040 and tsnradiovancouver.ca, including a pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT and a post-game show that will run until 9 p.m. PT.
The winner of Wednesday’s match will move on to face MLS Supporters’ Shield winners Seattle Sounders FC in the two-leg Western Conference Semifinal. Tickets for Vancouver’s potential home match, which would take place on Sunday at 6 p.m. PT, are on sale now.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Last match: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-0 Colorado Rapids
The ‘Caps secured a playoff berth on Saturday after defeating Colorado Rapids 1-0 in a nail-biter at BC Place. It was a must-win game for Whitecaps FC – any other result would have seen Portland Timbers claim the fifth and final playoff spot.
Fortunately, the Blue and White took matters into their own hands.
Whitecaps FC finish the season fifth in the Western Conference with 50 points, which is a new club record in MLS and the highest-ever point total by a Canadian MLS team. Also of note, the ‘Caps have improved their point total every season since joining the league in 2011.
Vancouver enter the postseason unbeaten in five matches (4W-0L-1D) and riding a 393-minute shutout streak, the longest shutout streak in MLS this season. Led by goalkeeper David Ousted, who recorded a league-high 13 clean sheets, the ‘Caps conceded just 40 goals this season – their lowest goals-against total in MLS.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson will be forced to make at least one change to his back line on Wednesday, as Steven Beitashour has been ruled out of the knockout match with a pulled hamstring.
That leaves two options for Robinson. He can either bring in left back Sam Adekugbe and move Jordan Harvey over to the right, or he can bring in right back Ethen Sampson in a straight swap with Beitashour.
Last match: FC Dallas 0-2 Portland Timbers
FC Dallas enter the postseason as the fourth seed in the Western Conference after posting a 16W-12L-6D record this season. They had mixed results in the month of October, however, going 2W-2L-0D.
Most recently, the Hoops fell 2-0 to Portland in their regular season finale at Toyota Stadium. With a win, Dallas would have finished third in the Western Conference and therefore avoided the Knockout Round. Instead, they will host the Blue and White at Toyota Stadium, where they posted a 12W-4L-1D record this season.
Only one playoff team in the Western Conference conceded more goals than FC Dallas (45) this season, but they didn’t have much trouble at the other end of the park. Case in point: their 55 goals were the fourth highest total in MLS.
Striker Blas Perez led the way with 11 tallies, including three against Vancouver, while Colombian winger Fabian Castillo was right behind him with 10.
Castillo, as well as young Argentine playmaker Mauro Diaz, have both dealt with injuries this year but both players appeared in Dallas’ regular season finale and are expected to be available on Wednesday.
Another player the ‘Caps will have to contain is Brazillian fullback/midfielder Michel, who had eight goals and five assists this season. Four of Michel’s five assists were from dead ball situations, which was the second most in the league.
Vancouver and FC Dallas played three hard-fought matches during the regular season, with each side earning a win, loss, and draw. It was a heated season series that included everything from wonder goals to coach ejections. Here’s a summary of each match.
July 17 – Whitecaps FC 2-2 FC Dallas at BC Place: Darren Mattocks opened the scoring for Whitecaps FC in the 11th minute, before Dallas took a 2-1 lead through a Perez rebound from close range and a Michel penalty. Pedro Morales, who had a career-high 12 shots, brought the game level with a 53rd-minute penalty of his own en route to a thrilling 2-2 draw at BC Place. It was a dominating performance from the Blue and White, who outshot their Western Conference rivals 30-10. Vancouver’s 30 shots set a new club record in MLS.
September 13 – FC Dallas 2-1 Whitecaps FC at Toyota Stadium: After Perez gave Dallas a 1-0 lead on a first-half wonder goal, Erik Hurtado drew the game level in the 67th minute – finishing off a nice little ball from Budweiser Man of the Match Mauro Rosales. But Perez added his second goal of the match in the 78th minute to seal the victory for FC Dallas. The Perez brace undid a positive road performance for the ‘Caps, who were playing their third match in eight days.
October 4 – Whitecaps FC 2-0 FC Dallas at BC Place: Sebastian Fernandez scored two goals in the first 20 minutes and the ‘Caps never looked back, cruising to a 2-0 win. The Uruguayan’s 14th and 18th minute tallies, which were both assisted by Rosales, led Whitecaps FC to victory in a heated affair that saw 31 fouls committed.
Though they’ve matched up quite well this season, Whitecaps FC haven’t had much success against FC Dallas since joining MLS, posting a 2W-7L-2D record overall. The ‘Caps have yet to get a result at Toyota Stadium.
Should Whitecaps FC win on Wednesday, they would meet Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC in the two-leg Western Conference semifinal. The ‘Caps would host the first leg on Sunday at 6 p.m. PT – tickets are on sale now.
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