The goal at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs, and thanks to a fantastic first half of the season, it was mission accomplished for WFC2 in 2016.
A year after finishing second from the bottom in the West, Alan Koch’s side is set to make it’s USL playoff debut this Friday at 6PM in Colorado Springs. It’s a fantastic accomplishment for a team that is amongst the youngest in the league, and is continually at the mercy of MLS call ups.
Despite the season already having been a success, Vancouver will look to make the most of their first venture into postseason play. Awaiting them in the first round of the USL Playoffs is a tough Colorado Springs Switchbacks team.
A fellow second year team, the Switchbacks narrowly missed out on top spot in the West thanks to a loss in the regular season finale. The far more experienced Switchbacks will be heavily favoured at home against the upstart ‘Caps, but in the one game elimination format that the USL deploys anything is possible.
To get you set up for the big match, we have sought the insight of the From the Backline crew.
Player to Watch:
Jorge Mendoza: Sem de Wit. Arguably the Dutch defender has been the MVP of the WFC2 squad throughout the 2016 campaign. If Alan Koch's pupils want to progress to the next phase of the playoffs it is imperative for de Wit to be on top of his game.
Soren Elsay: Spencer Richey. The ‘Caps have rotated goalkeepers all season, but Richey has far and away been their best. The Washington State native should get the call between the pipes on Friday, and Richey has shown that he has the ability to steal a game. He’ll need to be at his best if WFC2 are to pull off the upset.
Mark Dailey: Kyle Greig. Kyle is a veteran in the USL and has playoff experience. He is one of the leaders on the team, and his teammates will undoubtedly look to him during the heat of battle. In addition, Greig will want to rediscover the scoring touch he had at the start of the season when goals were plenty and WFC2 was flying high at the top of the Western Conference.
Why WFC2 will win:
JM: This team has proven that on their best day they are able to compete and beat any team in USL. They are well coached, and they have talented players in key areas of the park. The only obstacle WFC2 will face is being able to put it all together as they did in the first half of the season.
SE: Despite recent struggles on the road, this team has shown a fearlessness on the away from home throughout the season. WFC2 have the players to hit Colorado Springs on the counter and make Colorado play from behind, which something the Switchbacks not built to do.
MD: On their day WFC2 is a match for any team in USL. Alan Koch has a talented group of players in his team, but they've struggled when they've encountered some adversity this season. Koch will have to keep them focused and positive, especially if they find themselves down a goal or two in this match. WFC2 has also been most effective hitting teams on the counter, and keeping their game simple.
Why Colorado Springs will win:
JM: They will face a WFC2 squad that has struggled to find the level and consistency displayed in the first half of the season when they were dominant in the Western Conference. If Colorado Springs are able to capitalize on WFC's overall poor run of form and their home advantage, then they should be able to advance to the next stage of the USL playoffs.
SE: The Switchbacks are incredibly stingy at home, conceding only seven times all year at Switchbacks Stadium. If Colorado Springs get a lead, especially early, WFC2 will have to play right into the Switchbacks’ hands. Because of that WFC2 will need to be incredibly tight defensively, which is something that hasn’t happened in recent months.
MD: The WFC2 backline will be interesting to watch. Centrebacks Cole Seiler and Sem de Wit formed a pretty good partnership anchoring the defence earlier in the year. Once Seiler moved up to the first team, de Wit struggled to find chemistry with Seiler's replacements. The once rock-solid WFC2 defence looked disorganized and ragged at times, and conceded many poor goals as a result.
JM: 3-1 Colorado Springs.
SE: 2-1 Colorado Springs
MD: 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC2
Image: Whitecaps FC / Bob Frid