Historic Whitecaps Face Playoff Difficulties

Martin Rennie’s Vancouver team is playoff bound despite poor regular-season play
by Henrik Lonne   |   Thursday, October 25, 2012

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So the Vancouver Whitecaps are in the MLS playoffs in spite of what I predicted a month ago. Ironically, what clinched the playoff berth was the fact that rival Seattle Sounders beat FC Dallas, while Vancouver lost to its other rival, the Portland Timbers.

It wasn't exactly a victorious march to the playoffs, but  the Whitecaps are in fact heading to the postseason. They're the first Canadian MLS side to do so.

So congratulations to the Whitecaps organization, the Southsiders and the people of Vancouver.

But where is this Vancouver team going in the playoffs? Let's look at the positives and the negatives:

Negatives

One stat that should be worrying for the Whitecaps and their fans is that the team has had the worst form of any of the other playoff teams in recent weeks with 11 points since Aug. 1. Except for the mauling of Chivas USA at home on Oct. 3, Vancouver hasn’t won since Aug. 11 at home against Real Salt Lake.

Even worse, the team is 17th in goals – only Portland and Chivas USA have scored fewer. The team's record against the Galaxy, who the Whitecaps will meet in the first round, isn’t inspiring either, as this Vancouver team has gotten 1 point and have been outscored 2-7 in the three games played.

Positives

Vancouver does have a decent defense with it being ranked 7th out of in the league with 41 goals allowed, whereas Los Angeles is 15th with 47. So the key for Rennie and his staff to get the offense going and pressure a Galaxy team that hasn’t won its last three games and allowed goals in its last four matches.

While the defensive trio of Young-Pyo Lee, Andy O’Brien and Jay DeMerit may not have much MLS experience, they have plenty of high-quality experience from all over the world. Especially DeMerit, who should have fond memories of participating in the playoffs. If he can communicate the mentality to his team, then he will be very valuable.

Hopefully Vancouver has now gone through the growing pains and the rest of the team will follow suit. The Whitecaps will need to grow up in order to beat the Galaxy, who have only lost twice since Aug. 1.

No matter how Vancouver ends ups performing in the playoffs, this is still a great moment for Canadian soccer.

This is hopefully the first time of many where we see a Canadian team in MLS playoffs. That's assuming, of course, Toronto and Montreal make the leap as well.

Henrik LONNE

Nationality:
Denmark
College:
Copenhagen Business School
Club Domestic:
AGF Aarhus
Club Foreign:
Toronto FC
Born and raised in Denmark, the US performance in the 2002 World Cup dragged Henrik into the world of North American soccer. Subsequent trips to Canada made him a Toronto FC fan from abroad. The passion he now has for MLS outshines most European leagues.
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