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Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Playoff push: Breaking down Vancouver's final 10 matches

VANCOUVER, BC – “Now, we have to reset.”

Those were the words of Vancouver Whitecaps FC captain Kendall Waston on Wednesday after the ‘Caps fell to Toronto FC in the second leg of the Canadian Championship Final.

It was a disappointing defeat, but there’s no time to dwell on it now.

The ‘Caps must quickly shift their attention to the MLS playoff race, which looks like it’s about to heat up. As it stands, Whitecaps FC sit just below the playoff line, two points back of Real Salt Lake for the sixth and final position. 

They have 10 matches remaining, including four of their next five at BC Place, which makes this a better time than ever to make their move – not unlike they did around this time last year, going seven matches unbeaten to cement their playoff position.

Here’s a closer look at Vancouver’s remaining schedule.

Home matches: 6
Away matches: 4
vs. playoff teams: 6
vs. non-playoff teams: 4

Opponents:

New York Red Bulls (home) – August 18
San Jose Earthquakes (away and home) – August 25 and September 1
Seattle Sounders FC (home) – September 15
FC Dallas (home) – September 23
LA Galaxy (away) – September 29
Toronto FC (away) – October 6
Sporting Kansas City (home) – October 17
LAFC (away) – October 21
Portland Timbers (home) – October 28

Seattle and Toronto are both technically “non-playoff teams” at the moment, which certainly isn’t a fair description based on the quality of their rosters and recent form. Seattle, for example, has won five straight matches. The reality is that this is a tough schedule for Vancouver.

The ‘Caps are in good form, however, having gone three matches unbeaten in MLS play, including back-to-back results on the road against New York City FC and Portland Timbers.

So what sort of point haul will they need from here on out to secure a playoff spot?

In each of the last two seasons, 46 points was enough to get you into the Western Conference playoffs, but it’s looking like the point threshold will be a bit higher in 2018.

According to Sports Club Stats’ weighted method, which predicts the scores of the remaining games taking into account home field advantage and team records, 46 points would only give the ‘Caps a 18-23 per cent shot at the postseason. The likelihood of a playoff berth increases significantly if they are to finish in the 48-50 point range, as you can see below.

48 points: 55% to 63% playoff probability
49 points: 75% to 79% playoff probability
50 points: 89% to 90% playoff probability

Based on the above, the ‘Caps likely need around 15-17 points from their final 10 matches to secure a second consecutive playoff berth (for reference, they have 16 points in their previous 10 matches). If they take care of business in their final six home matches (a maximum point haul of 18 points), then they should be safely above the playoff line.

In other words, there’s still everything to play for.

Whitecaps FC host New York Red Bulls on Saturday at BC Place (4 p.m. PT kickoff on TSN 1/5 and 1410 AM radio – tickets are still available).