Playoff Preview: San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps

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San Jose Earthquakes players celebrate on field after cliniching their first MLS Cup Playoff berth since 2012 with a 3-2 win over Minnesota United on October 22nd, 2017 at Avaya Stadium. Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge.

After punching their ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs in dramatic fashion on Sunday Afternoon, the San Jose Earthquakes come into their first playoff match since 2012 full of confidence. Awaiting them for their Knockout Round match on Wednesday night at BC Place will be a Vancouver Whitecaps team that picked the exact wrong time to nose dive.

The Whitecaps come into Wednesday’s contest having won just one of their final five games. Included in that was a 1-1 draw against the Earthquakes two weeks ago with a chance to clinch the top seed in the West, followed by a 2-1 Decision Day defeat in Portland that allowed the Timbers to clinch both the top seed in the West as well as the Cascadia Cup.

Even with the drama of Sunday’s last gasp winner, two glaring factors face the Earthquakes heading into Wednesday: a -21 goal differential, which is 22 goals worse than the next closest Western Conference playoff team (Vancouver at +1), and a road form towards the end of the season that contributed a large chunk of that goal differential. Despite those two factors at play, the Earthquakes remember their draw at BC Place two weeks ago and are drawing some confidence from being able to go into that environment, show a form on the road that hasn’t been seen in months, and come away with a crucial road point.

“You want to be playing your best at the end [of the season]. We still have some things we need to work on, but I feel to a man in his locker room, we’re playing at our best. I don’t know how Vancouver feels but I hope they’re fearing us because I have faith in our guys,” said Earthquakes Foward Chris Wondolowski.

“Obviously it gives us an inside look into what they do and how they do it and what we can do against it, but the reverse can be said about them to us as well.” said Earthquakes Manager Chris Leitch. “That’s a game you play, and you have to make your adjustments and know that Vancouver is going to make their adjustments and go out with the right mindset and confidence that we can handle the pressure.”

Kendall Waston and the Vancouver defense was left frustrated after conceding their second goal of the game to former teammate and current Timbers striker Darren Mattocks in the second half. It turned out to be the game winner (photo by Jeff Wong).

After missing out on that top seed as well as surrendering the Cascadia Cup to the Portland Timbers, the Whitecaps have a lot of disappointment to put behind them as they look for their first MLS Cup Playoff match victory.

“Its do or die. Maybe we haven’t been doing our job as or late, but now its put up or shut up, we have to show up on Wednesday and show what we’re about of we go home,” Whitecaps Defender Tim Parker told Whitecapsfc.com.

With a win, the Whitecaps would meet up with Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders in the Conference Semi-finals, while if the Earthquakes can pull off the road victory, they would earn a date with the top seed Portland Timbers.

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