Playoff Preview: 'Caps Visit Swope Park with Championship Berth on the Line

Already an historic second season in their USL existence, WFC2 find themselves one game away from playing for the USL Cup. 

Standing in their way however is another young club that is just getting it’s feet wet in the USL.

The fourth seeded Swope Park Rangers, who are Sporting Kansas City’s affiliate, are in their first season of existence in the USL and have already enjoyed a dreamlike first season. Led by former Montreal Impact manager Marc Dos Santos and USL all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly, the Rangers will be favoured at home despite WFC2 taking both matchups earlier this season. 

Vancouver will continue to lean on captain Kyle Greig, who has scored in both of WFC2’s playoff wins this year, and hope to play a more complete game than they did in their 3-2 win over Oklahoma City in the Conference Semis.


Key Matchup

Sem de Wit vs Dane Kelly:

An off season acquisition from the Charleston Battery, Kelly battled injuries early on in the year but has started to resemble the man that has more goals than anyone else in USL history. His extra time winner in the semifinals against Orange County Blues showed his class when given a glimpse of goal. Since the return of Cole Seiler towards the end of the season, De Wit has seen his game return to the kind of form that he enjoyed early in the season. The aggressive Dutch centre back will be key to closing down the space around the dangerous Kelly.


3 Things to Watch For

1. Marco Bustos returns to the ‘Caps lineup after a stint with the Canadian National team. The leading scorer on the team a year ago has struggled for much of this year but has shown signs of life as of late. Bustos had a first half brace in the ‘Caps 3-2 win over Swope Park on June 12.
The Rangers managed to win their Conference Semi despite going down to 9 men. Defenders

2. Ever Alverado and Tommy Meyer were both shown straight reds in the second half against Orange County and will be unavailable on Saturday.

3. Alan Koch has gone with a 3 game at a time rotation between the pipes all season and with Spencer Richey having played the last three, it will be interesting to see if he sticks with the Seattle native. The sophomore has been the ‘Caps best keeper all year but Koch has refused to name him the starter for the rest of the playoffs despite his strong play.


Prediction
 

Expect to see some goals as two of the highest scoring teams meet for a berth in the Championship. With Greig and Kelly both in form for their respective teams, it will come down to which team’s back line can maintain their concentration for a full 90 minutes. Thankfully for WFC2, Sieler’s return has brought a level of stability to their defence over the last few weeks while the Rangers will be missing two starters due to suspension. In a showdown between such evenly matched teams, that will be the difference as WFC2’s fairy tale run will continue for another week.

Vancouver 2    Swope Park 1

 

Image: WhitecapsFC/BobFrid