Where the playoffs start isn't that important
Teitur Thordarson isn't sure. Jeff Clarke doesn't care.
The Vancouver Whitecaps will start the USL-1 playoffs at home to the Minnesota Thunder on Friday (7 p.m., Swangard Stadium) before heading to the Twin Cities for the return leg on Sunday.
Finishing second during the regular season gave the Whitecaps the choice of where to start, and Thordarson, the Caps head coach, seemed somewhat split on the decision.
Conventional soccer wisdom says that in a two-game, total-goals scenario the first road team will play for a tie in the opener and take their chances at home.
"In a way, I have often thought that it's better to start away, because you know [if you start at home] your opponent coming to play you will play for the draw," he said. "But the decision was mine and it's based on a combination of things. They [Minnesota] have to travel and have to travel back on Sunday."
Clarke, the Caps veteran defender/midfielder whose diving header held up as the winning goal in a 3-2 win at Seattle on Saturday, didn't put any stock in the choice.
"Either or," he said. "It didn't matter to me. If it goes to penalties [if the teams are tied at one game each] and it's in Minnesota or Vancouver, it's [anybody's game] no matter what.
"There's nothing fans can do when you're walking from the centre circle to the penalty spot. ... And we've lost the last two times we've had penalties in Vancouver."
Far more important than the venue is the opponent.
Minnesota has played Vancouver tough this season. The teams traded 1-0 away wins in April and May, and on Sept. 7 they tied 0-0 at Swangard Stadium, a game that the Whitecaps should have put to rest early on.
The last time they squared off in the playoffs was in 2000, when Minnesota won in extra time.
"We have actually played good games against them, but we have struggled a bit with goal scoring," said Thordarson. "Mostly because they have been lying down and defending. But I feel we can play anybody. We have a lot of confidence."
There were plenty of positive offensive signs on Saturday in an unusually wide-open affair. Nicholas Addlery, starting for the first time in three games, was a threat up front all game in partnership with Eduardo Sebrango. Addlery assisted on Sebrango's tally -- the Cuban's 100th point as a Whitecap -- that tied the game a 1-1.
"We started off a little bit slow this year but guys are coming on," said Addlery. "The team is really coming together and this is when it counts."
© The Vancouver Province 2008