Whitecaps face Dallas in one-off playoff game; Winner will face Pacific power Seattle Sounders

Caps fans can be forgiven for looking past tonight's game against FC Dallas, with our favourite northwest rivals awaiting the winner...

Whitecaps players celebrate the team's playoff-clinching 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. Vancouver will play Dallas FC in a one-off elimination game on Wednesday

Whitecaps players celebrate the team's playoff-clinching 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. Vancouver will play Dallas FC in a one-off elimination game on Wednesday



Admit it… you’re already looking past Dallas, aren’t you?

You can be forgiven for that. If the Whitecaps can survive tonight’s one-off elimination game in Texas, they’ll move onto a home-and-away series against the Seattle Sounders, adding a real do-or-die, win-or-go-home to what is quickly becoming (or has become) the MLS’s funnest rivalry. It’s either Vancouver and Seattle, or it’s one of those two against Portland.

And it’s tempting to ready yourself for that showdown, even prematurely, because it’s exciting.

The upstart Caps are in the playoffs for the second time in their four-year history (in the MLS, that is) but have yet to make the next round. Their only postseason appearance thus far was a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy on November 1, 2012. The Galaxy – led by David Beckham and Landon Donovan – went onto win their second straight MLS Cup.

So, whoa… the road is paved and the possibilities are obvious, even for a fifth-seed like Vancouver. But tonight’s challenge is Dallas, in Dallas.

“Dallas have finished above us, so they’re probably favourites,” Caps manager Carl Robinson told MLSSoccer.com this week. “They’re at home. We’ve got nothing to lose. No one expected us to get into the playoffs except me, that group of players and the club. We had a quiet belief about us, without an arrogance, and we did.

“Now we’re in it, who knows? Spin that wheel.”

The Caps have only one win in three games against FC this year, but it was in their last meeting with Dallas – a 2-0 win on October 4, in the friendly confines of BC Place. Before that, the Caps lost 2-1 to Dallas in Texas’s Toyota Stadium, and tied FC on July 17, 2-2.

Vancouver clinched their playoff spot with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids last weekend, with Kendall Watson heading home the game’s only goal in its 70th minute (video below).

“I think today was probably the story of our season in 90 minutes because we played very well at times, we had a few half chances we didn’t take, then we started to get edgy a little bit, and then the big man scoring the goal,” Robinson told reporters after the game (link above).

“I think it was fitting that David Ousted kept us in it with two fantastic saves in the last three or four minutes because God knows what I would have done if one of them had gone in.”

Dallas finished four points ahead of the Whitecaps in the MLS’s Western Conference, with 54 points to Vancouver’s 50. The awaiting Seattle Sounders led the entire league with 64 points off 20 wins, four draws, and 10 losses.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 6 p.n. PST; on TV at TSN1 and on the Radio at TSN 1040 and TSNRadioVancouver.ca, starting with a 5 p.m. pre-game show.

Surrey North Delta Leader