The plan was simple for the Vancouver Whitecaps this past weekend, Portland had already won which in return, meant that the Whitecaps had to defeat the Colorado Rapids in order to qualify for the 2014 MLS Playoffs. Coach Carl Robinson made a few adjustments before the match and in return, the club defeated the Rapids by a score of 1-0 and earned their spot in the knockout round of the MLS Playoffs.
It was a magical setting at B.C. Place as 21,000 fans (eleventh sell-out of the season) supported the white and blue to a crucial victory which set a points record (50) for the club as well as reaching the playoffs for the second time since joining Major League Soccer in 2011. The Whitecaps are on an unbelievable streak entering their match this Wednesday against F.C. Dallas. The club is unbeaten in their last five matches (4-0-1) and also has put up four straight clean sheets to end the season.
In order to instill quickness on the offensive side of the ball, Coach Robinson made some key changes to the starting eleven by adding Kendall Waston, Darren Mattocks and Sebastian Fernandez to the line-up and sitting Johnny Levron, Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh. The changers were very apparent as the speed of Waston caused havoc for the back line of Colorado and as the match progressed, it was clear that the man of the match would end up being Kendall Waston, who eventually scored the lone goal off a great pass by Pedro Morales early in the 70th minute. The next twenty minutes was all about ball control and the great job of shutting down the midfield so that the Rapids could not advance. It was a great all around effort for Vancouver made even better in that it was in front of their fans that have supported this club since the early 1970’s through today’s MLS incarnation.
2014 may mark the second time that the Whitecaps have made the MLS playoffs; however, they are no stranger when it comes to competing in the playoffs and even winning league titles. Vancouver has competed professionally in four soccer leagues and has won league titles in three of those leagues, the one exception, Major League Soccer. Vancouver was founded in 1974 in the Original North American Soccer League and their first taste of success came in 1979 when they made an unbelievable run in the playoffs culminating in capturing the Soccer Bowl with a victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The shining moment of that playoff run was not the Soccer Bowl Championship, but, an amazing victory over the New York Cosmos in the “mini-game” playoff. The clubs were even in the arrogate at the conclusion of the second match and the NASL rules stipulated that they would immediately play a “mini-game” to crown a victor and the Whitecaps were victorious. The NASL eventually folded in 1984 and the Whitecaps joined the Canadian Soccer League where the success continued with four straight championships from 1988 through 1991. While Vancouver was playing in the USL-1, they captured the title in 2006 and 2008, proving that they are one of the most esteemed soccer clubs in history of North American Soccer.
The Whitecaps have tasted success in MLS; they have captured the Cascadia Cup on two occasions and have competed in the playoffs where they lost in the knockout round to the L.A. Galaxy in 2012. Vancouver has a great coach in Carl Robinson and a young talented group of players that are sure to mature and eventually meld into a title competitor.
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