Playoff Permutations Become Clearer

Vancouver Whitecaps stuttering end to the regular season could leave them with some horrible playoff implications as the full playoff scenario begins to take shape.

The eight playoff teams are confirmed, but exactly what seedings they will end up with still has a lot of twists and turns left in it as we enter the final round of regular season games.

The Caps long time position as NASL Conference leader, and number 2 seed, has been surrendered to Carolina Railhawks but it couldn’t be tighter. Both teams have 44 points, both teams shared the head to head tiebreaker aspect and both teams have a current goal differential of plus ten with one game remaining.

Carolina currently occupy that valuable number 2 seeding position though due to the fact that they could actually score goals. Eleven more than Vancouver to be exact.

With Carolina playing their final game tonight though, Vancouver’s fate will be in their own hands so they can have no complaints if they balls things up.

The Railhawks host USSF D2 overall leaders Austin Aztex at 4pm PST tomorrow evening. With the Aztex not yet assured the overall number one spot, and with Rochester Rhinos breathing down their necks just two points behind, the Texans have everything to play for and will be looking for nothing less than a win.

If Carolina lose on Friday then the Whitecaps will need just a point on Saturday at home to Portland Timbers to wrap up the NASL Conference title, the number two seeding and home field advantage in the second leg of both the first and second round playoff matches. Easier said than done I know.

That seeding would mean a matchup with the 7th placed seeds, which we can basically assume to be Mr Dildo’s Minnesota Stars.

If Carolina get a point from Austin, we need a win against the Timbers. If Carolina beat Austin, then we need to beat Portland by a margin of just one more goal than them.

It should be a great position for the Caps to be in and will make for a very exciting last game.

If the Caps blow it and finish 5th, the likelihood is that they will end up playing the 4th seeded Portland Timbers in the first round of the playoffs, with the first leg being at Swangard Stadium on Thursday 7th October.

With Portland hitting a fine vein of form just now, it’s not the ideal start to the playoffs. There is also an outside chance that Rochester could provide the first round opponents if they were to lose their last regular season game and Portland beat us at the weekend by two goals or more.

For those that may be looking forward to another epic playoff away day though, be warned.

Last year’s playoff trip to PGE Park was amazing. It was not only one of the best away trips I’ve had in all my years of watching football on both sides of the Atlantic, it was also one of the best games of football I’ve been lucky enough to attend.

If we end up with Portland in the first round this year though, we may be scrambling to get tickets. Portland announced today that they will host their first round tie on Sunday October 10th, but with PGE Park being unavailable due to reconstruction work commencing for the MLS, the game will be played at Merlo Field on the Campus of the University of Portland, with a 6pm kick off.

Merlo Field is a 4,892 capacity soccer-specific stadium at the Clive Charles soccer complex at the campus and seats will be at a premium.

If we do end up playing there, rest assured that your Southsiders executive will be doing everything we can to secure tickets for our members that wish to travel down.

Of course, let’s hope that things don’t get to that stage and we hold the number 2 seeding.

You’ll know what you’ll need to do guys, so just go out there and do it.

C’mon the Caps.

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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