USSF D-2 Playoff Recap: Whitecaps top Timbers, No. 1 seed falls to Puerto Rico

 
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By JOSE M. ROMERO

The last meeting betwen the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps before both teams head to MLS had all the drama you would expect, especially given the fact they were meeting in the playoffs.

Each team won at home in their USSF Division 2 playoff series, but the Whitecaps were able to hold on for the series victory after posting a 2-0 first-leg victory. Portland's 1-0 home win on Sunday wasn't enough to send the Timbers packing early as they prepare for the move to MLS. 

Whether the Timbers should have opened the series in Oregon is moot now; nevertheless, the Timbers put themselves in a 2-0 hole after the first leg and the Whitecaps' strategy was simple for the second – d. up. At least Portland walked off the pitch with some kind of win (1-0) for the sake of their rabid and devoted fan base.

Give the Whitecaps credit, though. They know playoff soccer and have enough veterans and a coach who have been to the dance before, so little was going to faze that team.

Now the Timbers turn their attention to forming their MLS team. The Whitecaps are not ready to devote their offseason to MLS preparation just yet. They'll get the long transcontinental flight to La Isla de Encanto, Puerto Rico, to take on the Islanders in the first leg of that two-leg semifinal series. The match is Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Game Two is Sunday at 7 EST.

Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Bayamon, outside of San Juan, is no easy place to play. Just ask the No. 1 seed, the Rochester Rhinos, who were upset in the first round and lost 2-0 in the first leg. The Islanders, who came in as the lowest seed (8) might be peaking at the right time. 

This is a rematch of the 2008 USL final, which Vancouver won 2-1 at home over the Islanders. No team has a win over the other this season, as they played to a pair of draws in the regular season. 

The other USSF D-2 semifinal features the only higher seed to advance according to seeding form, the second-seeded Carolina Railhawks, against the No. 6 Montreal Impact. Carolina got past No. 7 NSC Minnesota 4-0, scoring all goals in the second leg at home, and the Impact had the easiest time of it, winning 2-0 in the first leg over the third-seeded Austin Aztex in Quebec. Then the Impact went down to Texas and scored a 3-2 result for a 5-2 aggregate goals win. 

Thursday night at Stade Saputo in Canada, Montreal continues its defense of the 2009 USL First Division title. It's a 7:30 EST start, with the second leg Sunday at the home of the Railhawks, WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., at 6 EST.

Both teams are unbeaten in their past five matches, all wins for the Impact. Carolina was 2-1-2 against Montreal in the regular season and beat the Impact 2-0 at Saputo on May 30.

Montreal's Ali Gerba and Carolina's Etienne Barbara are the players to watch in this series. Gerba, a former Toronto FC and Canadian national team player, scored nine goals in 13 regular-season games for the Impact. Barbara had eight in 21 matches. Goalkeeper Jay Nolly and forward-midfielder Martin Nash lead the Whitecaps, while Puerto Rico was second in USSF-2 with 152 corner kicks this season.

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7 Responses to USSF D-2 Playoff Recap: Whitecaps top Timbers, No. 1 seed falls to Puerto Rico

  1. CJ says:

    Kind of funny there are no USL teams in the semis.

  2. Charles says:

    US soccer does have promotion. IF you are successful and you are from a big city, you go to MLS.

    Shame.

    Not saying that all these teams could survive in MLS, but in a perfect world I would have rather seen both leagues be successful and have a “NFL style” merger….rather than this slow bleeding death leaving great teams like Rochester behind.

  3. lassidawg says:

    The winning tradition of the Timbers lives on.

    Good luck next year maybe things will be better for you in the MLS, but I doubt it.

  4. Quakes in your panties says:

    While Rochester might have some history, there is also some bad history there. Back in 2008 when the team was insolvent and pactec park became administered by the city, there were some very real questions about if a Rochester team would be fielded for 2008. Luckily Rob Clark stepped in for the team and fans.

    Not exactly the solid financial ownership would would like to see in MLS.

    We need to be realistic. There is only one slot left without a real conference type of setup and that slot wouldn’t go to rochester.

  5. stj says:

    I mentioned Ali Gerba to some Aztex players this weekend but they haven’t seen him in a few weeks.

    How was he unmarked? Crazy

  6. Lorenzo says:

    I wouldn’t start make such definite statements considering MLS allows just about anything to happen.

    MLS teams are getting pretty deep with usable players, so they should be able to select some useful players, they should also get a good players in the SuperDraft.

    RSL came in as the last ranked play-off team and won the whole thing.

    Expansion teams can do well, and they won’t have to deal with CCL or SuperLiga. The salary cap makes things fairly even, only rarely does a team suck awfully like DC is now or NYRB last year.

  7. metasyntactic variable says:

    “Give the Whitecaps credit, though. They know playoff soccer and have enough veterans…”

    Have they really been there before? By my count the ‘Caps had nine players 23 years-old and under on the pitch Sunday, including four 19 year-olds and one 20 year-old.

    I suppose two or three of those may have been slightly or fully involved in playoff soccer in the past.