The 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs are coming to Vancouver.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (16W-13L-5D) booked their first-ever home playoff date with a convincing 3-0 win over Houston Dynamo (11W-14L-9D) in Sunday’s sold-out regular season finale at BC Place.
Kekuta Manneh, Kendall Waston and Robert Earnshaw each scored in the second half en route to a thrilling conclusion to the 2015 MLS regular season.
With the win, Whitecaps FC finish second in the Western Conference, which means they will avoid the Knockout Round and get a bye directly to the conference semifinals.
The first leg will begin next Sunday, November 1 on the road, and Whitecaps FC will host the second leg on Sunday, November 8.
Vancouver’s possible opponents are Seattle Sounders FC, Portland Timbers, and LA Galaxy.
Pass the popcorn.
The ‘Caps came into the game knowing a win would clinch a home playoff date.
And you could sense the urgency in their game early on. Carl Robinson’s troops came out of the gates flying, creating three quality chances within the opening 15 minutes.
In the third minute, Cristian Techera picked off an errant back pass and sent a cross into Octavio Rivero, whose header was stopped a diving Joe Willis. Willis came up big again less than a minute later, this time denying a low Matias Laba strike from the top of the box.
And then in the 13th minute, Vancouver came within inches of opening the scoring when Techera blasted a powerful half-volley off the inside of the crossbar.
It was a bright start for the home side, but they had nothing to show for it.
Neither did Houston, whose only chances came off the foot of Giles Barnes. The Jamaican international had a pair of decent free kick opportunities as well as a heavy 20-yard strike that a diving David Ousted turned away late in the first half.
The second half started just as the first ended – with little space either way.
But then, just before the hour mark, Manneh broke the deadlock with a perfect 25-yard strike into the bottom left corner. The goal was Manneh’s seventh of the season, a new career-high.
From there, the floodgates opened.
Waston added insurance in the 72nd minute, heading a Techera corner off a Houston defender and into the back of the net. Fittingly, the goal came exactly one year to the day that Waston headed the ‘Caps into the playoffs last season. The Costa Rican was also named the 2015 Whitecaps FC BMO Player of the Year earlier in the day.
Finally, Whitecaps FC added an exclamation mark in stoppage time when Earnshaw headed in a cross from fellow substitute Mauro Rosales to make it 3-0.
The victory capped off a historic season for Whitecaps FC, who won their first-ever Voyageurs Cup, set a new club record in points, and are now set to host their first-ever home playoff game.
And the best part? It’s not over yet.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Kendall Waston
Referee: Kevin Stott