The MLS Cup playoffs get underway tonight with Western Conference play-in game between F.C. Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps, which the Sounders will be watching keenly. The winner hosts Seattle in the first leg of the conference finals on Sunday, the loser goes home.
The match will be televised regionally on TWCS in Texas and TSN1 in Canada — I know, I know — and available on MLS Live, with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. PST.
Here are some notable notes to get you ready for tonight:
- Dallas forward Blas Perez was Dallas’ leading scorer in the regular season with 11 goals, while Vancouver midfielder Pedro Morales led the ‘Caps with 10.
- The game could very well come down to wide play, though, as both teams love to unleash their speedy wingers on the break. Whitecap wings Kekuta Manneh, Erik Hurtado and Darren Mattocks and FCD counterparts Andres Escobar and Fabian Castillo could turn the match into a track meet.
- Don’t believe me? See: Sounders coach Sigi Schmid’s breakdown. “Vancouver and Dallas are a little bit similar in that they both possess the ball,” he said. “They have good speed, and they try to get their guys isolated – whether it’s Manneh and Hurtado or Escobar and Castillo.”
- The Whitecaps took seven of nine possible points in its three meetings with Seattle this season, while FCD followed up on a pair of one-goal losses with a 3-1 defeat of the Sounders in late-September.
- The fourth- and fifth-place teams in the West split their regular-season series right down the middle: A win apiece and a 2-2 draw in July.
- F.C. Dallas is making its first playoff appearance since 2011, when it lost to New York in the play-in round a season after making it all the way to the final. Vancouver is making its second appearance in the postseason and can earn Canada’s first-ever MLS Cup playoff win.
- Vancouver enters the fray having won four of its final fifth matches, a streak that allowed it to see off surging Portland for the final postseason berth in the West. FCD has been more stuttering down the stretch, mixing in three losses with three wins in its final six.
- Form, though, only means so much come playoff time — particularly in the one-off elimination game. “A cup competition is fantasy island,” Schmid said. “Anybody can have their day.”