VANCOUVER, BC – It wasn’t the fairy-tale qualification story many had envisioned for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Losing to the Portland Timbers in their own building with a fairly tame 1-0 defeat on Sunday evening – a result that allowed their regional rivals the chance to lift the Cascadia Cup – it was only a win from their other local cousins, Seattle Sounders FC, which pushed the ‘Caps across the finish line.
When all the results wrapped up, the Whitecaps were in – and in doing so, became the first-ever Canadian team to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs.
“As disappointed as we are with how we performed tonight, over the course of the season, we’ve done well,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters at BC Place after learning of Seattle’s 3-1 win over FC Dallas. “Things like winning our first game on the road early in the season, those points all add up and they all came to fruition for us to reach the playoffs.”
Sunday’s results mean Vancouver will face the reigning MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center in a one-off first-round knockout round matchup on November 1.
“We’re going to be the underdogs for sure and we know that,” Rennie said of the matchup. “A lot of times, the team that’s the underdog and maybe the team that scrapes its way into the playoffs is a team that can be dangerous and a team that is hard to play against.”
With the initial matchups determined, that leaves next Saturday’s match with Real Salt Lake as a match of little importance from a ‘Caps perspective – meaning players could be rested ahead of the playoff match less than a week later.
Rennie admitted things aren’t that simple though, implying there’s a desire to get a result against RSL to boost the confidence of what clearly seemed a deflated team on Sunday.
“I think if we’d won tonight and played well tonight, we would have definitely [rested players],” Rennie said. “But we just have to consider what would be the best thing given how we played tonight.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.