VANCOUVER – It wasn’t pretty, but the Vancouver Whitecaps are in the playoffs.
Falling to the Portland Timbers 1-0 Sunday evening in front of 21,000 at BC Place, the 'Caps allowed the visitors to lift the Cascadia Cup in their building, before getting a bit of help from their other Cascadia rivals in the late match, as the Seattle Sounders eliminated FC Dallas from playoff contention with a 3-1 win.
The results means Vancouver becomes Canada’s first-ever MLS Cup playoffs participant, clinching the fifth and final spot in the Western Conference.
“From the start of the season that was our goal was to get into the playoffs,” head coach Martin Rennie said late Sunday evening after learning his team had qualified. “Taking over a team that was last in the table and had a poor record last season, it’s actually quite a big achievement to reach the playoffs I think.
“As disappointed as we are with the way we performed tonight, over the course of the season we’ve done well.”
On the night, it was Jack Jewsbury’s 39th minute howitzer from distance which proved the difference maker, as his powerful outside-the-boot shot flew into the upper 90 of Brad Knighton’s goal.
“It seems every time I’m in there I’m giving up the goal of the week,” Brad Knighton said of the shot. “But credit to him – it was a good strike. But, we just didn’t take our chances here today and left 1-0 down.”
Following the goal, Vancouver didn’t have a response, failing to challenge Donovan Ricketts with a meaningful strike on target.
The team’s seeming lack of fight in such a massive match left the Vancouver dressing room clearly deflated ahead of the Sounders’ match which would ultimately pave the way for its playoff qualification.
“Throughout the game we didn’t show the quality we have in recent games,” Rennie said immediately following the match. “You feel like the team is just about where you want it to be, and then you put together a performance like that.
“We let a lot of people down today. We had a big chance to not only move ourselves into the playoffs, but move the club forward.”