VANCOUVER, BC – OK, so we know Vancouver Whitecaps FC will begin the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference Semifinals. But who are they going to play against?
There are three potential matchups – tasty ones, at that.
Here’s the situation.
If Portland Timbers defeat Sporting Kansas City in Thursday’s Knockout Round match (7 p.m. PT on TSN 1/4/5), the ‘Caps will play Portland. Otherwise, they will play the winner of Wednesday’s Knockout Round match between Seattle Sounders FC and LA Galaxy (7 p.m. PT on TSN2).
So the ‘Caps will either get a Cascadia rival or the star-studded defending champs.
Let’s take a look at each of the three teams.
Vancouver’s record vs. Portland in 2015: 1W-0L-2D
Key players: Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri
Earnshaw scores a stoppage time-winner against Portland on March 28
Just a few weeks ago, Portland was fighting for a playoff spot. Now, they have a home playoff date and they’re one of the hottest teams in the league. The Timbers won their final three matches, outscoring their opponents 10-3 in the process. That includes a 5-2 road win over LA Galaxy.
Vancouver’s rivalry with Portland dates back to 1975, when the Timbers joined the old NASL. So there’s obviously a ton of history between the two clubs, which only adds to the intrigue.
This season, Vancouver won the season series with a 1W-0L-2D record. As you can probably gather, these are two incredibly evenly-matched teams.
They both have young coaches, they usually use the same formation, and have similar types of players (neither side has a big-name star, but they’ve still gone out and found some lesser-known players who have made a big impact).
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Vancouver’s record vs. Seattle in 2015: 1W-2L-0D
Key players: Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
Kah scores twice for 'Caps in 3-0 win over Seattle on August 1
Vancouver’s rivalry with Seattle dates back even further than that with Portland. Both teams played their inaugural season in 1974 – and the rivalry has lived on ever since.
Interestingly, the road team won each game in the 2015 season series. In fact, the home team didn’t even score a goal. Seattle won 2-0 and 3-0 at BC Place, while Whitecaps FC won 3-0 at CenturyLink Field. Seattle also got the better of the ‘Caps in CONCACAF Champions League play this season.
But it’s a new season now.
Seattle are undefeated in their last eight MLS matches (4W-0L-4D).
Vancouver’s record vs. LA in 2015: 2W-0L-0D
Key players: Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard
Manneh leads 'Caps to 1-0 win over LA on June 6
LA lost their final two matches, but this is a team you can never take lightly.
Why? Because they’ve won three of the last four MLS Cups. That speaks for itself.
Whitecaps FC won both of their meetings with LA this season, including a 1-0 road win back in June that ended the Galaxy’s 29-match home unbeaten run.
We should note, however, that the two teams haven’t met since LA added longtime Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard and Mexican national team striker Giovani dos Santos.
The ‘Caps will kick off the Western Conference semifinals on the road this Sunday, November 1, before hosting the decisive second leg on Sunday, November 8 at BC Place. Get your tickets for Vancouver’s historic first-ever home playoff game today.
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