Pair of thrilling Cascadia derbies sets up big finish to MLS season for Vancouver Whitecaps FC
VANCOUVER, BC – What a week.
Fans saw it all these past several days: incredible entertainment, an amazing goal, and a historic performance.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (12W-11L-9D) have kept their playoff hopes very much intact after picking up four of a possible six points in a pair of massive Cascadia derbies.
After a disappointing 1-0 loss at the hands of Real Salt Lake September 28 at BC Place, the resilient ‘Caps responded with two of their best performances of the season.
First, the Blue and White came from behind twice to earn a point in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Portland Timbers October 6 in front of a boisterous crowd of 20,303 at BC Place. Camilo scored both of Vancouver's goals, including a brilliant scissor-kick volley that will no doubt be considered for MLS Goal of the Year.
Highlights: Seattle Sounders FC 1-4 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
With their season hanging in the balance, the ‘Caps then humbled Supporters Shield contenders Seattle Sounders FC with a historic 4-1 win in a midweek Cascadia clash Wednesday at CenturyLink Field.
Rookie Kekuta Manneh, 18, carried Vancouver to their first road victory over a Cascadia rival with a natural hat-trick – becoming the youngest MLS player and first Whitecaps FC player to score three goals in one match.
Going into their final two matches of the season, both against fifth-place Colorado Rapids, the ‘Caps are now just three points out of a playoff position.
“I think the first thing is we’ve still got a good chance and that’s important,” Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie told reporters after Wednesday's match. “I think the second thing is that whenever you play a game like that – and I think on Sunday we played really well, too, and [goalkeeper Donovan] Ricketts came up really big for [Portland] – but I think the last couple of games we’ve played really well, and that gives confidence and we’ll go for it with everything we’ve got in the next game too.”
The ‘Caps now have a 10-day break before their next match on October 19 against Colorado, which is their longest layover since the end of June.
“It’s nice to have two days off and enjoy this win for a few days,” said Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit. “Then get back to training and then looking at Colorado and keeping ourselves focused on what the main focus is here, and that’s pushing our way into the playoffs.”
Vancouver’s playoff fate won’t become any clearer this weekend, as fifth-place Colorado and sixth-place San Jose Earthquakes are also idle after a midweek meeting of their own. However, the Cascadia Cup will be awarded on Sunday when Seattle and Portland do battle at JELD-WEN Field (6 p.m. PT kickoff on TSN2).
The ‘Caps currently sit atop the Cascadia Cup standings and will claim the trophy with a Timbers win or draw.
“Obviously that’s a little bit out of our hands … but it’s nice to be in the position we’re in at the moment and it would be a huge thing for us if we could end up winning the Cascadia Cup,” Rennie said. “We’ve done all we could, especially [against Seattle on Wednesday], so it would be nice to get our hands on that, if we could.”
The top seed for next year’s Amway Canadian Championship, awarded to the Canadian team with the best regular season record, is also within reach for Whitecaps FC, who currently trail Montreal Impact by just two points in the overall standings.
The Impact are also in action this weekend, as they host New England Revolution Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo (11:30 a.m PT kickoff on TSN).
Whitecaps FC are back at BC Place on October 27, when they host Colorado in a match that could very well determine the final Western Conference playoff entrant. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT. The October 27 season finale will also be Fan Appreciation Night, with a number of activities throughout the match.
Tickets for the match are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.