Vancouver can clinch playoff berth against Portland
Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC has built its playoff credentials at home, and can end all suspense about its first-ever postseason appearance with a win at BC Place on Sunday.
In its second season in MLS, Vancouver was one of the top teams in the league just after the midway point with eight wins and six draws in 18 matches. But, a 12-game stretch from mid-July to late September produced just eight points.
Vancouver has regrouped in the first three matches of four-game homestand, as it has two draws and a victory to solidify its grip on fifth place - the final postseason berth in the Western Conference.
The Whitecaps (11-12-9) host the Portland Timbers (7-16-9) in their final home game of the regular season this weekend, when a win will be enough to seal the coveted playoff berth. No Canadian club has ever reached the MLS postseason.
"I think everybody is looking forward to it," Vancouver manager Martin Rennie said.
A draw, or even a loss, could be enough to secure a postseason spot, should FC Dallas fail to pick up enough points against Seattle Sounders FC.
All signs point to Vancouver putting the finishing touches on its playoff spot this week, as in addition to an impressive 8-2-6 home record, Portland has not won on the road this season, going 0-12-4 entering its final away match.
"Every home game I've played in we've played pretty well in," said Vancouver striker Barry Robson. "Hopefully we can go out (and play well) and make sure we win."
The Whitecaps visit Real Salt lake in their final match, so a slip up against Portland could force the Canadian club to get a result in Utah.
The Timbers hope to end the season on a positive note, and avoid dropping from eighth to the bottom of the West. Portland has just a one-point cushion on the final spot, held by Chivas USA.
Portland lost its most recent match in the Cascadia Cup rivalry, contested by the Timbers, Whitecaps and Seattle, with a 3-0 loss to the Sounders on Oct. 7.
"It would be nice to come back after that disappointing Seattle game and play Vancouver immediately, but I think it's still fresh in everyone's minds," said Timbers interim coach/general manager Gavin Wilkinson.
Despite the overall struggles this season, a win against Vancouver would claim the Cascadia Cup for Portland.
"We've got to get over it," Portland defender David Horst said of the Seattle loss. "We still have another chance to win the Cascadia Cup in Vancouver. We have to have a short memory and be professionals and move on and get ready for Vancouver."
10/19 17:14:51 ET