Match preview - The Province


BY MARC WEBER

Carolina at Vancouver

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. tonight

Venue: Swangard Stadium

TV: None Webcast: USLlive.com

Return leg: Sunday in Cary, N.C.

(2 p.m. PT, USLlive.com)

The format: USL-1 playoffs are two-game aggregate goals series (no away-goals rule). If the teams are tied at the end of the second leg, then two 15-minute periods (no golden goal) will be played to determine the winner. If they are still tied, a penalty shootout will follow.

The skinny: Despite an 0-1-2 record against the RailHawks, the Whitecaps are buoyed by the knowledge that they dominated Carolina at home on Aug. 15, outshooting them 22-9 only to be wronged by a disallowed Marlon James goal that should have counted. They also led 1-0 in Carolina before a late equalizer. Vancouver has a pair of players from the Carolinas in midfielder/defender Wes Knight of Easly, S.C. and midfielder Justin Moose of Statesville, N.C.

2009 head-to-head:

July 17: Vancouver 1 at Carolina 2 (CAR: Richardson 44', Bundu 65'; VAN: Gbeke 90'); Aug. 15: Carolina 0 at Vancouver 0; Aug. 18: Vancouver 1 at Carolina 1 (VAN: Haber 66'; CAR: Budnyy 87')

Carolina RailHawks:

USL-1 record: 16-7-7; Away: 5-5-5 ; Goals for/against: 43/19; Away: 11/11; Top turnaround in the league, going from out of the playoffs in 2008 to three points shy of first-place Portland; Top league scorers: Richardson and

Bundu (6)

Vancouver Whitecaps:

USL-1 record: 11-10-9; Home: 9-3-3; Goals for/against: 42/36; Home: 26/15; Predicted starting XI: J. Nolly; Hirano, Pejic, Bellisomo, Martin; Toure, Chin, Nash, Knight; Gbeke, Haber; Top league scorer: Charles Gbeke (12)

Other series (all times PT):

The No. 1 Portland Timbers have a first-round bye and will face the lowest-seeded winning team in the semifinals.

No. 3 Puerto Rico Islanders (15-7-8) vs.

No. 6 Rochester Rhinos (11-9-10):

Today at Rochester, 4 p.m.; Sunday at Puerto Rico, 3 p.m.

The skinny: Should be a heated rematch of last year's semifinal in which the Rhinos won 2-0 at home, only to lose the series in overtime in Puerto Rico.

No. 4 Charleston Battery (14-5-11) vs.

No. 5 Montreal Impact (12-11-7)

Today at Montreal, 4:45 p.m.; Sunday at Charleston, 4 p.m. *

The skinny: Montreal didn't score in three games against Charleston this season, but the Impact were 5-1-2 in their last eight games and have the second-best defensive home record.

*Fox Sports World Canada. All others on USLlive.com

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