Whitecaps, Thunder set to battle in first round of playoffs

Chris Pady BURNABY, BC (BCSB) - The USL-1 2008 regular season wound up Sunday night, setting the stage for the post-season which is scheduled to begin on Friday, September 26th and wrap up on Saturday, October 11th. The Vancouver Whitecaps, who finished an impressive second under first year manager Teitur Thordarson, are pitted against the 7th place Minnesota Thunder in the first round which kicks off at Swangard Stadium this Friday at 7 pm. Each series is a two-game, home-and-away affair – with a combined score from both games deciding which team moves on to the next round. The ‘Caps leap into the playoffs full of confidence after bouncing back from a goal down to defeat the Sounders in their final regular season game in Seattle last Saturday night. They are relatively injury-free, possess good depth off the bench and have several experienced veterans who were on the ULS-1 winning team in 2006. Vancouver recorded a record of 1-1-1 versus Minnesota during regular season play. For winning the Commissioner’s Cup winner’s as top point getters for the 2008 season, the Puerto Rico Islanders were allotted a first-round bye into the semifinals and, just as importantly, some time for injuries and small knocks to heal following a grueling season. The league’s other Canadian contingent, the Montreal Impact, whose dismal start to the season was redeemed after the appointment of John Limniatis as head coach midway through the season, finished in third and will play the MLS bound Seattle Sounders. In the final match up, fourth-placed Rochester Rhinos are up against the Charleston Battery. All first-round games will be played on September 26th and September 28th, with the semi-finals scheduled for September 30th and October 5th.