A total of 12 teams – the top six from each conference – qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The playoffs begin with a single elimination Knockout Round, featuring seeds No. 3 through No. 6 in each conference. Seed No. 3 hosts seed No. 6, while seed No. 4 hosts seed No. 5. Should a Knockout Round match end with the score tied after 90 minutes, then the match will be decided by extra time and – if needed – a penalty shootout.
Seeds No. 1 and No. 2 from each conference get a bye to the Conference Semifinals, where they face the winners of the Knockout Round in a two-leg, aggregate series (highest seed vs. lowest seed). The team that scores more goals over the two matches will advance to the Conference Championships. If both teams have scored the same number of goals over the two matches, then the team with more away goals advances. If the both teams have also scored the same number of away goals, then the series will be decided by extra time and – if needed – a penalty shootout.
The Conference Championships follow the same format as the Conference Semifinals.
The MLS Cup Final, however, is a single-elimination match hosted by the team with more points in the 2017 MLS regular season.
HOW WE GOT HERE
The ‘Caps finished third in the Western Conference with a 15W-12L-7D record.
Key Whitecaps FC players to look out for are centre back and captain Kendall Waston, who recently scored the goal that sent Costa Rica to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, attacking midfielder Yordy Reyna, who Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said might just be “the best player the club’s had,” and striker Fredy Montero, who has scored a team-high 13 goals this season.
The Whitecaps franchise (named after Vancouver’s whitecaps on the ocean and mountains) has been around since 1974. The most memorable moment in Whitecaps history came in 1979.
That’s when the ‘Caps upset the heavily-favoured New York Cosmos en route to the NASL Soccer Bowl title. In the process, the ‘Caps became the city’s first pro sports team to win a major North American championship. Upon return to Vancouver, as many as 100,000 people lined Robson Street during a championship parade.
Following the NASL era, the 'Caps were reborn as the 86ers, who established themselves as a powerhouse in the Canadian Soccer League by winning four straight championships. The Whitecaps added two more titles in the USL before joining Major League Soccer in 2011.
This is the club’s seventh season in MLS.
They've now qualified for the playoffs four times, including a first-ever home playoff game in 2015. The result in that match was a disappointment, but the 28,373 fans in attendance made it a night that will forever be etched in the club's history books.
“I've been in the game 18 years, and played in six countries including the Premier League, and that for me was one of the best atmospheres I've ever been involved in,” said retired striker Robert Earnshaw, now an assistant coach in the club’s Residency program. “BC Place was rocking. I looked around after about two or three minutes and thought, ‘Wow, this is where you want to be. This is how you want to play football.’”
The rest has yet to be written.
WHITECAPS FC PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Wednesday, October 25 vs. San Jose Earthquakes: 5-0 victory
Western Conference Semifinals vs. Seattle Sounders FC
First leg – Sunday, October 29 vs. Seattle Sounders FC: 0-0
Second leg – Thursday, November 2 at CenturyLink Field
Western Conference Championship
First Leg – Tuesday, November 21
Second Leg – Thursday, November 30
Saturday, December 9
PREVIOUS MLS CUP CHAMPIONS
2016: Seattle Sounders FC
2015: Portland Timbers
2014: LA Galaxy
2013: Sporting Kansas City
2012: LA Galaxy
2011: LA Galaxy
2010: Colorado Rapids
2009: Real Salt Lake
2008: Columbus Crew
2007: Houston Dynamo
2006: Houston Dynamo
2005: LA Galaxy
2004: DC United
2003: San Jose Earthquakes
2002: LA Galaxy
2001: San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Kansas City Wizards
1999: DC United
1998: Chicago Fire
1997: DC United
1996: DC United