Vancouver Whitecaps at FC Dallas
MLS Live, 6 PM Wednesday
Sporting Kansas City at New York Red Bulls
ESPN2, 5 PM Thursday
Three Big Storylines:
- Vancouver earned 13 points in their final five matches to nip the Portland Timbers by one point for the last spot in the playoffs. FC Dallas returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, while the Whitecaps are making their first appearance since 2012. Vancouver beat Dallas 2-0 in Vancouver on October 4th, while Dallas beat Vancouver 2-1 on September 13th in Dallas and they split their opener 2-2 in Vancouver on July 27th. Vancouver has not given up a goal for 393 minutes; David Ousted led MLS with 13 shutouts ahead of Bill Hamid's 10 shutouts in second. Ousted was one of only five players in MLS to play all 3060 minutes available this season.
- Sporting KC finished the season with only four points in the last five matches to fall into the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls earned this home match by winning 2-0 at Sporting Park on Sunday night. That game featured two goals by Bradley Wright-Phillips for 27 on the season while Thierry Henry did not travel due to both Achilles being sore. Henry is expected to be back in the lineup. Henry had his healthiest year in MLS, playing 2651 minutes over 30 games.
- For the third point, let's talk about the TV schedule. The Whitecaps v Dallas game is not on national television. As far as I can tell, every other MLS playoff game is going to be on a national outlet. NBCSN has Wednesday night NHL every week, so they were out. ESPN2 is showing something called NBA Coast to Coast from 5-8 PM PST, while ESPN has actual NBA games. Two months ago in this space there was a poll about MLS Live. The results were that almost exactly 50% of the respondents said they do have MLS Live. So that will be your outlet. Golazo is also sponsoring a viewing event at Atlantic Crossing if that is your thing.
From a Sounders point of view, pick your opponent. A bus ride to Vancouver on Sunday or a flight to Dallas? The Sounders earned six points against Dallas and only one against Vancouver over three games each. Your author will be cheering for extra time and maybe a red card or three with a slight lean to Vancouver mostly because Fabian Castillo terrifies me.
Enjoy your MLS Playoffs Opening Round Gamethread.