The day is almost here.
Sixth-seed Whitecaps FC 2 begin their USL Cup Playoffs campaign on Friday evening when they visit third-ranked Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
Kickoff at Switchbacks Stadium is set for 6 p.m. and will be streamed live on whitecapsfc2.com.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
The young 'Caps took the USL by surprise in the regular season, getting off to a 10-match undefeated start despite fielding one of the younger lineups in the league.
The torrid start was sparked by offseason acquisition Kyle Greig, who scored or assisted in nine of his first 12 matches with the club. The captain from Olathe, Kansas makes his return to the postseason after being on the Oklahoma City Energy FC side that beat Colorado Springs in the Conference Semifinals in 2015.
WFC2 were also spearheaded by winger Alphonso Davies and left back Brett Levis early on, before each earned first-team contracts midway through the year.
The 'Caps enter the playoffs coming off a much-needed win over OKC Energy FC in the season finale, thanks in large part to Marco Bustos. The first-team attacking midfielder appears to be playing his best football of late, picking up a pair of braces in the last month.
On defence, 6-foot-1 Dutchman Sem de Wit and 2016 MLS SuperDraft selection Cole Seiler have manned the middle, while Levis and 18-year-old Kadin Chung hound opposing players on each flank. The foursome benefits from coaching and mentorship from 19-year professional Pa-Modou Kah, who moved from his first-team centre back role to a player/coach position with WFC2.
Spencer Richey, Sean Melvin, and Marco Carducci split goalkeeping duties for head coach Alan Koch. Richey led the team in starts (14), saves (49), save percentage (0.731), and goals-allowed average (1.29).
Switchbacks FC boast one of the most balanced attacks in USL, with four players scoring at least six goals on the year in Mike Seth (8), Martin Maybin (7), and Miguel Gonzalez and Luke Vercollone (each with 6).
Seth and Vercollone are their most lethal playmakers on the attack, while defender Josh Suggs has also shown the ability to set up opportunities for his teammates.
A potent offence that finished second in the league in shots taken, Colorado Springs are as formidable on the other end of the pitch, especially at home.
Nigerian centre back Christian Ibeagha and right back Jordan Burt headline a backline that has given up only seven goals at Switchbacks Stadium all year.
Goalkeeper Devala Gorrick finished with a solid 0.84 goals-against average, while ranking fourth in the league with 82 saves.
The two sides met twice this season, with Levis and Gonzalez trading goals in the 1-1 draw at Switchbacks Stadium on July 29, and Vercollone scoring both goals in Colorado Springs' 2-0 win at Thunderbird Stadium on September 11. The 'Caps played with only 10 men for most of the latter match after Matthew Baldisimo was sent off in the 18th minute.
THE ROAD TO THE CUP
The winner of Friday's matchup advances to meet the winner between Rio Grande Valley FC and Oklahoma City Energy FC, who play at Toro Stadium on Saturday evening. If the 'Caps win, they visit RGVFC, or play host to Energy FC on the weekend of October 7 to 9.
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