SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Following their surprising Cascadian Cup Championship, spirits are higher in the Whitecaps camp, than anyone could have envisaged two weeks ago. The Vancouver Whitecaps came away from Seattle with a monumental victory and their first hat trick since joining Major League Soccer with a 4-1 win over the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in front of a crowd of 38,883.
Whitecaps, 18 year-old rookie Kekuta Manneh scored three goals in 54 minutes in Seattle and Nigel Reo-Coker got the monkey off his back, as he scored his first career MLS goal in the 82′. Daigo Kobayashi finally played his part as a playmaker and added a pair of assists. Everything came up roses for the Whitecaps in what was another must win game.
Vancouver are now trailing the Colorado Rapids (48) for the 5th and final playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference by a mere 3 points. The final two matches on the Whitecaps schedule feature and home and home series with those very same Colorado Rapids. The Whitecaps will travel to Colorado on Saturday, October 19, and they will host the Rapids on the final day of the regular season at BC Place, on Sunday, October 27.
If Vancouver can come away with a two wins they will shockingly surpass the Rapids for a berth in the playoffs. If they win four points from those two games, they will surpass Colorado on the goals scored tiebreaker.
In both scenarios, they also need to pick up two more points than San Jose (47). An unlikely Los Angeles Galaxy (48) implosion might help but it would be preferable for Vancouver, if they were to beat San Jose in Sunday’s California derby. Because the first tiebreaker is games won, Seattle are out of reach. Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy team will host Montreal as well as San Jose before finishing the season at Seattle.
The Earthquakes have 47 points, and will have to play that tough road match against the Galaxy. They will close out the season at home to FC Dallas. San Jose has been on quite a hot streak of late with 4 wins, and a draw in their last five MLS matches. San Jose are in perfect position to hold off the Whitecaps and surpass Colorado for that final playoff spot.
A few weeks ago many Whitecaps, pundits, fans, and followers of the team could never have predicated the team would still be alive for a playoff spot. When Vancouver went into their annual late season slide, a successful march to the playoffs seemed like a well off pipe dream. It would mean a huge deal to the Whitecaps organization, players, and the maligned gaffer Martin Rennie if the team could somehow sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season.
Coach Rennie’s future has been a hot button topic of late with most fans wanting to run him out of town. Recent results at home, including a lacklustre showing vs Real Salt Lake, and a 2-2 draw vs Portland have left fans with a bitter taste in their mouths. It’s thought that Rennie’s coaching style, and tactics have grown old, and some believe he and Englishman Nigel Reo-Coker are heavily at odds with one and other.
Winning can change everything, and heal all sorts of problems a team may have. After thumping the Sounders FC 4-1 the Whitecaps were in a joyous, happy, and excited mood not seen in quite a long time.
For the Whitecaps, if they do end up in the playoffs you would have to think that Martin Rennie would be offered a contract extension by the club. Vancouver has never won 12 game before, and they’ve never won the Cascadia Cup since entering MLS. Rennie also led the franchise to its first ever playoff match last season against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Ownership does not want to be known as Toronto FC of the west so it’s still very possible that Martin Rennie will be retained.
Vancouver have taken a lot of heat, but until they are mathematically eliminated they will cling to hope, and so will the supporters. Martin Rennie has refused to believe his team are out of the race, and he has always supported his players, and surrounded them with positivity down the stretch as some of the media have quietly written off the Whitecaps.
After finally beating Seattle on the road the Whitecaps confidence is at an all time high, as they close out the 2013 MLS season with Colorado in the next must win match.
Notes: Kenny Miller has not trained with the Whitecaps this week, and his status for the rest of the season is unknown. The Whitecaps second leading scorer has been battling an abductor injury sustained against Montreal.