It’s been a tough few months in Whitecaps-land.With a record of 3-3-1 in MLS league play since the beginning of August, things don’t seem terribly dire on paper, but with the Vancouver Whitecaps currently sitting in 7th place in the West, it will be a nail-biter for the Supporters during the last six matches of the season while they await results from around the league to determine whether the Whitecaps make it into the 2018 playoffs.
The last eight matches have provided both unbelievably heart-wrenching lows and spectacular highs. From a déjà vu-inducing equalizing own goal from Doneil Henry in dying seconds in the home leg of the Voyageurs Cup against Toronto FC and a 5-2 shellacking at BMO Field that saw Toronto hoist the V-Cup for the third time in as many seasons, to a hard-fought 3 points won at Providence Park against Cascadian rivals, the Portland Timbers, and an epic 3-2 come-from-behind win in San Jose during the first of back-to-back fixtures against the Quakes, the Whitecaps may need to start printing a warning on their tickets for people with heart conditions.
The #RobboIn and #RobboOut camps have been out in full force this season, and the last few weeks have been no exception. There were rumblings in August that anything less than hoisting the Voyageurs Cup would seal Carl Robinson’s fate as Vancouver’s manager; however, the Alphonso Davies deal may have bought the gaffer his job until the end of the 2018 season.Heading into Cascadia derby weekend, Robinson was quoted as saying, “There’ll be freshness in the game, as with all derbies. Whenever you play Seattle or Portland there’ll be energy, mistakes, wrong decisions, and it’ll be down to the players as to who will win the game,”* a quote which hasn’t sat well with Caps’ fans.
This past Saturday, Seattle Sounders visited BC Place for one of Caps fans’ favourite weekends of the year: Cascadia derby weekend.For these matches, calendars have usually been cleared for months and the supporters’ pubs are fully booked with day-long reservations.But this year was different.With an abbreviated Cascadia schedule due to the addition of Los Angeles FC to the Western Conference, the Caps found themselves playing Seattle and Portland only twice this season.
These matches should have meant that much more yet the apathy Vancouver has been experiencing all year long continued to grow.The Supporters pubs were eerily quiet and events around match day were wholly uneventful.Fortunately, the lower bowl at BC Place was still sold out and there was a lot at stake: with a draw or a win, Seattle wins the coveted Cascadia Cup.
The first half saw two Seattle goals with Raúl Ruidíaz scoring for the Sounders in the 21st and 42nd minute.The Caps were able to claw back a goal with an incredible header from Kei Kamara but ultimately, the Caps fell short and the final score was 2-1 Seattle.
In terms of “worst case scenario” this was it for two of the three Cascadian teams as the Portland Timbers sent representatives to Vancouver to hand off the Cascadia Cup to the 2018 champions, the Seattle Sounders.
There is still ample opportunity over the next six weeks to make a smash-and-grab run at one of the Western Conference playoff spots but, as Robbo so aptly put it, it’ll be on the players on the pitch to want it enough to bring home as many of the available 18 points as possible.
Sporting Kansas City is back atop the Western Conference following a 5-1 road win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium. Sporting KC earned their sixth away in a dramatic fashion thanks to a collective two-goal, two-assist from Gerso Fernandes and Felipe Gutierrez, along with goals from Ike Opara and Krisztian Nemeth.
Sporting KC opened their scoring sheet in the 18th minute when Fernandes broke away from Nick Lima and delivered a cross to Gutierrez, who snuck in front of two of San Jose’s defenders to flick the serve past Andrew Tarbell into the far-right corner.
Five minutes later, the same duo would double Sporting KC’s lead with another fantastic run. This time, the duo switched places as Gutierrez came from inside the center and sent a pass to a perfectly-timed Fernandes, who clipped a brilliant chip over a bewildered Tarbell that fell inside the far post.
Sporting KC came close to scoring a third goal but a now alert Tarbell cleared a dangerous opportunity from Yohan Croziet. Later, Tarbell would be called into action again when he stopped a perfect buildup that almost saw Gutierrez earning his second goal of the night.
Nevertheless, Sporting KC added to the score after Roger Espinoza sent one down the middle, Tarbell blocks and a quick-thinking Opara leaps at the chance to bury the rebound, securing Sporting KC’s 3-0 lead into the half.
Although San Jose had an energetic start, the Earthquakes would quickly fall back after seeing their chances hit the crossbar and denied by a spry Tim Melia. But Sporting KC went on to add two more goals to their total in the second half.
The first being in the 67th minute when Nemeth sent a screamer past Tarbell. In the 80th minute, Danny Hoesen breaks through Sporting KC’s defense and pulls one back for the Earthquakes, scoring his 11th-goal of the season. In addition to, halting Melia’s clean sheet.
After having a perfect August, Sporting Kansas City started the new month off on the wrong foot by falling to the Seattle Sounders 3-1. The win is their eighth straight – the most in a single season in the post-shootout era.
Sporting KC had a perfect start when Diego Rubio scored his eighth goal of the season after knocking in a half-volley to give his team the early lead in the second minute.
Unfortunately, the lead wouldn’t last long as Raul Ruidiaz found the equalizer in the 12th minute. He snuck in behind Sporting KC’s backline and tapped the ball home from close range.
Just shortly after the restart, Seattle got a lucky break. While the Ruidiaz’s goal gave Seattle life after a tough start, the game turned when the ball caromed off of Graham Zusi at an impossible angle and over Tim Melia into the net. This own-goal would later become the winning goal for the visitors later in the match.
Moments later, Seattle continued to pressure as Brad Smith’s cross ricocheted off of Ike Opara‘s upper arm from point-blank range, and Toledo awarded Seattle the penalty. Nicolas Lodeiro stepped up and tucked the ball into the corner, increasing the score 3-1.
Sporting KC received a chance to redeem themselves in the 80th minute after a straight red card was issued to Chad Marshall for a foul on Johnny Russell. Initially missed by Toledo, VAR confirmed the foul and Russell gave Nemeth the ball, but his chance quickly diminished as the attempt went straight to Frei.
The loss pushed Seattle above the line into fifth place and moved Sporting KC down to third place – just below LAFC and above Real Salt Lake by one point.
Sporting KC returns home to host Orlando City SC at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, Sept. 8. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
After a record breaking 5-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, the Vancouver Whitecaps faced the second seeded Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semi-finals. First leg was played at home and resulted in a 0-0 draw. The game was frustrating and intense.
When the lineup was announced, you could tell we were playing defensively since away goals are weighted more than home goals in aggregate scoring. The Whitecaps had some really great chances. I sit near the away team’s support section and boy were they annoying =). Seattle also had their fair amount of chances including an almost own goal from our very own Kendall Waston.
The game was physical right away and the ref let them play. There was a lot of players “down”. Just to give you an idea, with a 0-0 draw the second half had at least 6 mins of extra time. 6 MINUTES. Most of this time came from a little kerfuffle in the 83rd minute, involving most, if not all, of both sides. It was a heated game with added frustration of playoffs. The ref wasn’t consistent, Seattle is defending the Cup, and these two teams have been rivals for a while now. Emotions were being felt.
Near the end of the game, we made some offensive changes bringing in Yordy Reyna and Nico Mezquida. Expect to see a more offensive lineup for Thursday, the 2nd game. Though, word on the street is that Reyna and Techera are still “touch and go’ according to the Whitecaps website. Seattle will also see the return of Clint Dempsey coming off a red card suspension.
Whitecaps lost 3-0 on their last visit to their rivals. Seattle is a hometown team who set a “franchise record this year for the fewest home losses in a season” according to the Sounder’s website.
One away goal from the Whitecaps could curtail the Sounders and pressure them to produce 2 goals. There are many scenarios that could play out in the second game, but one thing is certain, there will be only one team moving on. We need to, more now than ever, to #Riseupraincity
A collaboration by official reporters of MLSFemale @MLSFemale
With Major League Soccer, there is no greater prize than the MLS Cup. Twelve teams, 6 from each conference, are vying for the chance to lift the ultimate prize of the league’s 22nd season. Here’s a quick rundown from our MLSFemale squad:
Toronto FC: AND NOW YOU’RE GUNNA BELIEVE US, we’ve gone and won the league! Suffice it to say the city of Toronto is over the moon with our accomplishments this season and we are looking forward to what we hope is a great playoff run. Michael Bradley succinctly put our season in summation by saying “…we went after every game from 1 to 34 like it was the only thing that mattered.” (source)
I think they can be proud that they never really wavered on that goal and it paid off. As a member of the Kings in the North, one of the official protectors of the Supporters’ Shield during it’s stay in Toronto, I look forward to spending some time up close and personal with it.
Our playoff future looks bright; one is left hoping that we take that same winning mentality into the playoffs and consider every opponent and every game with care. Finishing off the regular season at Atlanta was also a good test for us to end on. Fresh to the league, they were the one team I felt we hadn’t had a proper chance to sound out back in April. Having seen their house and how they feel about our players (your hate makes them strong, our love makes them unstoppable), I now feel confident that Toronto FC has the arsenal to make a successful playoff run. And as Giovinco has shown, this team is ready for whatever is thrown at them. So bring on our second (okay fine, third) go at it, we’re here to win it all!
*NYCFC: Not gonna lie: this team gets measurably better every year. With head coach Patrick Vieira, the Pigeons have made it to their 1st MLS post season in style, with a bye for the knockout round. Legend David Villa and newcomer Jack Harrison, as well as the rest of the squad, are going to face their first opponents well rested and ready for a run. Just how far can the boys in blue go their first time out?
Chicago Fire: Nine months ago Fire fans were excited for the club’s new signings– with Dax McCarty, Juninho, Niko, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, certainly the Men in Red wouldn’t finish last place again – would they?
By early June, fans knew that not only were the Chicago Fire going to dig themselves out from the bottom of the table, but the likelihood that they would be playoff contenders looked promising.
David Accam, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juninho, amongst others have been battling injuries, just returned from injury, or will return from injury for the playoffs. Is the squad recovering at the appropriate time? With key players on the bench over the last couple of months, other players gained experience – this will certainly help strengthen roster options when Veljko Paunovic looks to his bench for substitution options.
Who will get the nod for the goalkeeper position? Matt Lampson, who has been with the team since February of 2016 and a total of 34 games played for the Fire? Or will Richard Sanchez start in net after only recently signing with the Fire?
We supporters are excited for the playoffs, for the opportunities that lie ahead, and for a home game, but we’re also realistic, especially after the last two unfortunate seasons.
Atlanta United: Well, here we are…The new kids in the league are in the playoffs. A 4th place finish to the regular season is better than where I thought we’d be at the beginning of the season. This gives us home field advantage for Thursday’s knockout round game – and home field advantage in Mercedes-Benz Stadium could be significant. We’ve also won both games against Columbus (#SaveTheCrew!) earlier this season – although we did lose to them in the preseason Carolina Challenge Cup in February.
This team is much stronger now. They’ve now had an entire season to get to know each other. We have a solid starting lineup – even with a few subs because of injuries. And with over 70,000 people expected at the game on Thursday to cheer them on, I think Atlanta United has a really good chance at hoisting that cup in December.
The boys are ready for this. Atlanta is ready for this.
Columbus Crew:In the middle of the season, the Crew was struggling and looked unlikely to make the playoffs, but Berhalter seems to have the magic touch with his team at the end of the season.The tie against NYCFC took the Crew’s unbeaten streak to 10.It kept the team in the 5th spot while a win could’ve put them in 2nd place.
The team is dealing with a lot of distractions with a fan base who passionately loves them and is distraught that an owner would take them away.(#savethecrew)However, if the team can keep their form and absorb the passion the fans are showing them, they actually have a chance against Atlanta.Although, it will be a tough away game.The fans really need them to win, so we have a home playoff game to show how much we love the players.
New York Red Bulls: Whew! Just made it in under the wire. But RBNY is in the playoffs for the 8th season in a row. Always the bridesmaid, RBNY is the only MLS 1.0 team (originally the NY/NJ Metrostars) never to lift the MLS Cup. Coach Jesse Marsch has said that the team has been the favorite during the playoffs to no avail and that it’s time to be underdog.
I’m expecting a solid performance from Tyler Adams and the rest of the back line as well as more attacking from Daniel Royer. Defender Aurelien Collin has been working his way back to full health, and Jesse hopes to be able to bring him back into the 18. Dax McCarty and the Chicago Fire are the first obstacle in the knockout round, and another edition of the Hudson River Derby is practically guaranteed after that. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having ever is. Fight Together.
Portland Timbers: It is not an overstatement to say that for the Timbers this Sunday’s game was the most important game of the year up to this point. The Cascadia Cup was on the line, as was the chance to win the conference and a first round bye.
With a Portland win, they have won the West and a first round bye. They also take back the Cascadia Cup, the coveted supporter-owned trophy awarded to whichever northwest team has the best finish among the three Cascadia-area squads. If Portland had tied or lost, Seattle would have taken the Cup, and Portland would almost certainly have dropped to third or fourth place, hosting a midweek knockout round game.
As I expected, Attinella remained in goal, with Vytas and Powell on the wings, and Mattocks up top as we wait for Fanendo Adi to be match fit. And with PTFC’s Mattocks being a former Whitecaps player there was plenty of opportunity for a knife-twisting match finish as he gave us the go-ahead goal to seal the deal. Now we wait to see who makes it out of the knockout round.
Seattle Sounders: It is finally time to defend our cup.This year has been such an up and down year.There are days where we look like the team from last year’s run.And then there are games where we look like a team that hasn’t even played together before.
The game against FC Dallas gives me hope that maybe we are turning a corner.With a win on Sunday gives us a much needed bye.This will give the team time to heal up.I can’t wait for this run at the MLS cup.I really hope the top team in the East loses so we can host the cup this year!!
Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps were able to pull themselves above the red line in a very decisive way, landing themselves in 3rd place in the Western conference after flirting with the top spot for a hot minute. They will meet the San Jose Earthquakes in the knockout round at home in Vancouver. This is a decided advantage for the Whitecaps, as BC Place has been a fortress for the team this season.
*Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo played VERY well at home this year, giving up only one game at home at BBVA during the regular season. And they have to be looking forward to the opportunity to take on Sporting KC again, having just beaten them at home less than two weeks ago and drawing them in Kansas City shortly thereafter. If they manage to pull it off, their next opponent will be one of the top two finishers in the West, Portland or Seattle.
Sporting KC: I am not pleased with how this season ended, and I am not pleased that Sporting fell from 1st to 5th in the West over the last third of the season. If we’re going to make it anywhere in the playoffs we have to do one thing…score goals. It seems like that should be pretty easy, but obviously it’s not since SKC scored just 3 goals in their last 5 games.
If the Sporting team from the beginning of the season comes back then we could be in good shape, but the run will be hard since we have no home field advantage. Hopefully, with this being the third game against Houston in a two week span we’ll have them figured out. Sporting, don’t make this city regret all the energy you put into the US Open Cup. We need some of that magic for the playoffs.
*San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes had a wild finish to the regular season, with the winning goal coming three minutes into stoppage time against expansion side Minnesota United. Now they travel to Canada on only three days rest for a single game elimination round. They may still manage the upset against a Whitecaps squad that is struggling to put games away at precisely the wrong time in the season.
If San Jose can pull it off, they will face Portland in a conference semifinal, a team they’ve beaten at home twice during the regular season.
(Teams marked with a * do not have an official reporter from MLSFemale. If you support any of these teams, find your inner reporter and contact us!)