The Vancouver Whitecaps finished the 2009 regular season with a 2-1 home win over the Cleveland City Stars on Sept. 18, and the squad is now looking forward to the playoffs that begin on Thursday at Swangard Stadium.
The Whitecaps will play the Carolina RailHawks in a home-and-home total goals series starting 7:30 p.m. at Swangard Stadium on Sept. 24. The return leg is on Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. PDT at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
Carolina, who finished second in the league, had the choice of opening at home or on the road, choosing the latter because when they play their home date on Sunday, they'll know exactly what result they need to advance to the United States League first division semifinals.
The down side for the RailHawks is they're forced to travel twice, to Vancouver for Thursday's game before flying home for Sunday's game, while Vancouver only has to travel once.
The Whitecaps finished the year with 11 wins, 10 losses and nine draws, while the RailHawks were second with 16 wins, seven losses and seven draws. Friday's match meant little in the standings and the Whitecaps struggled to put away the Stars.
The Whitecaps are selling tickets for Thursday's match. Prices start at $18, and tickets are at all Ticketmaster ticket centres, online at www.whitecapsfc.com or by phone at 604-669-WAVE (9283).