In their final United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) regular season fixture, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (7W-5L-3D) visit Washington Crossfire (3W-7L-4D) in Redmond, Washington, on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT at Redmond High School.
Following Wednesday's crucial 2-0 home win over North Sound SeaWolves, the young 'Caps face a Crossfire squad that currently sit second from bottom in the PDL's Western Conference, Northwest Division standings. The current playoff picture has the Residency team tied with British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC on 24 points, with the Vancouver Island outfit playing two home games this weekend against Kitsap Pumas and Abbotsford Mariners to close out their schedule. Highlanders FC's 'magic number' is four points, meaning if they win and draw this weekend, they will eliminate the 'Caps from playoff contention - no matter what their result is against the Crossfire. However, should the teams end up tied, the Residency team hold the edge in the season series with two victories and a draw, and would advance through to the PDL playoffs.
It all makes for an exciting conclusion to what has been an interesting season for Richard Grootscholten's squad. With several players missing considerable time while away on international duty throughout the month of June, the Residency team still managed to come away with a .500 record heading into July, where they have battled for each and every result to put themselves in postseason contention.
Sunday will see Major League Soccer roster players Philippe Davies, Alexandre Morfaw, and Long Tan made available for the Blue and White, as they look to avenge a June 19 loss at home to the Crossfire. All three players figured prominently in the win over North Sound, with Morfaw scoring a penalty and Davies adding the insurance marker with a marvellous display of skill in the late stages of the midweek contest at Swangard Stadium. Look for striker Ben Fisk and midfielder Bryce Alderson to continue their strong ball distribution, as the young 'Caps try and maintain the strong attacking style they exhibited in the second half of Wednesday night’s match against the SeaWolves.
Despite coming up short of the playoffs this season, Washington come into Sunday’s match-up with the knowledge that they can beat Whitecaps FC, as evidenced by their last meeting in Coquitlam, BC, last month. The Crossfire have spread their scoring across their squad this season. Forwards Colin Rigby and Nathan Sackeyfio have six and seven points respectively. Look for goalkeeper Doug Herrick to handle the duties in net after making a team-leading eight appearances on the season.
POTENTIAL PLAYOFF SCENARIO
Should the Residency team emerge from this weekend occupying the second and final playoff position in the Northwest Division, they will advance to the Western Conference championship tournament - alongside Kitsap Pumas, Fresno Fuego, and Ventura County Fusion - scheduled for July 29 to 31. As the second seed in the Northwest Division, Whitecaps FC would face the Southwest Division winners, with the winner of that semifinal advancing to face the winner of Kitsap versus the Southwest Division runners-up in the Western Conference playoff final. The winner of that match will qualify for the PDL 'Final Four' as Western Conference champions on the weekend of August 6 and 7.