On Wednesday night, FC Dallas clinched their spot in the MLS Western Conference Semifinals with a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the wild card round match and with that brings a new playoff format.
Those of you who are UEFA Champions League die-hards will know exactly what a "two-legged aggregate" playoff means, but for those of who you follow FC Dallas either casually or fanatically, we're here to explain the ins and outs of the system.
Two games, one winner
Over the next week and a half, FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC will play twice, at Toyota Stadium on Sunday, November 2nd at 8:00PM and at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Monday, November 10th at 9:30PM. The two games will be normal 90-minute MLS matches, but it's the combined score of the two matches that will determine who moves on to the Western Conference Finals. Let's go through a few scenarios:
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 2-0 and loses the "second leg" in Seattle 1-0. FCD would advance to the conference finals because the combined, aggregate score is 2-1 FC Dallas.
FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC draw 0-0 in the "first leg" in Frisco and Seattle wins 2-0 in the "second leg." Seattle would advance to the conference finals with a 2-0 aggregate win.
That make sense? Well let's talk about ties.
Should FC Dallas and Seattle be tied in aggregate score after the games in Frisco and Seattle, one of two things will happen.
First off, let's talk about "away goals." Again, those of you who watch the UEFA Champions League are familiar with this rule and basically it means if the game is tied after 180 minutes, two games, whoever scored the most goals in the other team's house will advance to the conference finals. Again, let's go through a couple scenarios:
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 2-1 and loses the "second leg" in Seattle 1-0. Despite being tied 2-2 on aggregate, Seattle would advance to the conference finals because they have one "away goal" to FCD's zero.
FC Dallas and Seattle draw 1-1 in the "first leg" in Frisco and draw 2-2 in the "second leg" in Seattle. Despite being tied 3-3 on aggregate, FC Dallas would advance to the conference finals because they will have two "away goals" to Seattle's one.
Extra time and shootout
If the teams are tied after both games and also tied on away goals, the match will go to 30 minutes of extra time and if it is still tied, we will go to penalty kicks. You saw both of those scenarios in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup semifinal against Philadelphia Union earlier this year. Away goals is not in effect once you get to overtime. Basically, if both games finish with the same score, we're going to overtime.
Again, let's go through scenarios:
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 2-1 and Seattle wins the "second leg" in Seattle 2-1. The teams would go to 30 minutes of extra time after the second game in Seattle as the teams are tied on score and away goals. If neither team scores in overtime, it goes to penalty kicks.
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 3-1 and loses the "second leg" in Seattle 2-0. The Sounders would advance despite being tied 3-3 on aggregate as they lead 1-0 on away goals.
Does that all make sense? Score more goals than the other team over two games, you win. Score the same amount of goals and more goals in the other team's house, you win.
This is it. The playoffs have returned to Toyota Stadium and tonight FC Dallas will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a winner-take-all wild card round matchup. Here are the 10 things to know before heading to Toyota Stadium tonight to scream your brains out:
1. Tonight's match, and our entire playoff run, is Driven by Toyota. They've partnered with Chase to provide everyone who enters Toyota Stadium with a free #RedForGlory rally scarf. Be sure to wave yours proudly at tonight's game!
2. Our honorary scarfer tonight is Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley! He's got a pretty amazing story, and we're super excited to have him. Join us at around 7:30 on the north concourse for the ceremony.
3. If we win tonight's match, we will host Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday night at 8:00PM in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals. Stay tuned for a special ticket offer after tonight's game should we triumph.
4. Bring the kiddos out to tonight's match in their best halloween costumes. Toyota is sponsoring Trunk or Treat on the north concourse. Each of our Toyotas will have some candy in the trunk for the kids. We may even let adults have a piece or two if they ask nicely.
5. FC Dallas has earned the right to host a playoff home game & you've earned the right to cheer the team to victory in such a huge game. Be louuuuuud tonight.
6. While parking is always free for everyone at Toyota Stadium, our Toyota drivers out there can enjoy FREE upgraded parking in the Camry Gold Lot tonight. The Camry Gold Lot is directly NW of the stadium adjacent to the Dr. Pink field.
7. FCD & Vancouver have played three extremely hard-fought games this year with great goals, great saves and some controversy as well. Take a look back at the previous meetings.
8. The weather for tonight's match should be absolutely perfect. Forecasted temperature at kickoff is 70 degrees dropping down to 65 by the end of the match. It's gonna feel like fall.
9. If you can't make it to Toyota Stadium, tonight's match is live on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel 323 with Mark Followill & Kevin Hartman as well as 100.7FM with Steve Davis & 1270AM with Carlos Alvarado & Rafa Calderon.
10. Don't have your tickets yet? Are you crazy?! Beat box office lines & get them here.
FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have played three hard-fought games in 2014 and they’re going to go at it one more time on Wednesday night in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoff curtain-raiser, a do-or-die wild card round matchup. Let’s take a look back at the three matches they’ve played this season:
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, FC Dallas 2 – Sunday, July 27th BC Place
Raul in Vancouver
Goals from Michel and Blas Perez saw FC Dallas take a 2-1 lead into the halftime break, but a controversial second half PK from Pedro Morales earned a point for the Whitecaps.
This match will be remembered, however, for some heroics from goalkeeper Raul “Superman” Fernandez. The Peruvian made seven acrobatic saves denying Morales who had an incredible 12 shots on goal.
FC Dallas 2, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1 – Saturday, September 13th Toyota Stadium
FCD 2, VAN 1
Oscar Pareja’s side extended the Whitecaps hoodoo in Frisco as two goals from Blas Perez sent Vancouver’s all-time record at Toyota Stadium to 0-5-0 with a 2-1 win for FCD.
Perez’s first goal was a spectacular, if perhaps accidental, effort from nearly the corner flag. His cross/shot looped over the head of goalkeeper David Ousted and straight into the goal sending the Budweiser Beer Garden into raptures.
Perez won it late for FC Dallas, hammering home a rebound in the 78th minute to earn all three points for FC Dallas, a huge home win that proved vital later in the season.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, FC Dallas 0 – Saturday, October 4th BC Place
VAN 2, FCD 0
The Whitecaps earned their second-ever win over FC Dallas with a comprehensive 2-0 home win earlier this month. A five-minute double from Sebastian Fernandez in the first half was all the offense Vancouver needed as the Whitecaps were able to sit on the 2-0 lead for pretty much the entire match.
Despite having 24 crosses to Vancouver’s 5 and earning more shots, corners and possession, FCD was unable to seriously test Ousted in goal in this match.
A hard-fought match that saw 31 fouls committed, coaches from both sides were seen getting into a bit of a tiff at the final whistle adding a little extra spice to what should be an incredible match on Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium.
Hear from Pareja, Loyd & Ulloa on #FCDvPOR with FCDTV's Quick Kicks:
Here's your Keys to the Match pres. by Toyota for Saturday's regular season finale vs Portland:
Here are the best pictures from Saturday's win over Colorado:
Saturday's win at Colorado coupled with Real Salt Lake's draw at Portland has made the playoff picture pretty clear for FC Dallas with one week left to go in the season. Let's talk about it:
FC Dallas will finish third in the Western Conference if:
-Real Salt Lake loses or draws against Chivas USA on Wednesday night
-FC Dallas defeats Portland Timbers FC on Saturday night
If FC Dallas finishes third, our Western Conference semifinal playoff schedule will be:
WC Semifinal 1st leg - LA Galaxy/Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas - Saturday, November 1 or Sunday, November 2 Toyota Stadium
WC Semifinal 2nd leg - FC Dallas at LA Galaxy - 8:00PM - Sunday, November 9 StubHub Center
2nd leg - FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC - 9:30PM Monday, November 10 CenturyLink Field
FC Dallas will finish fourth in the Western Conference if:
-Real Salt Lake defeats Chivas USA on Wednesday night
-FC Dallas draws or loses to Portland Timbers FC on Saturday night
If FC Dallas finishes fourth, our Western Conference playoff schedule will be:
Wild Card Round - Vancouver Whitecaps/Portland Timbers at FC Dallas - 7:30PM Wednesday, October 29 Toyota Stadium
If FCD wins the Wild Card Round, our WC Semifinal schedule would be:
WC Semifinal 1st leg - LA Galaxy/Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas - Saturday, November 1 or Sunday, November 2nd
WC Semifinal 2nd leg - FC Dallas at LA Galaxy - 8:00PM - Sunday, November 9 Toyota Stadium
WC Semifinal 2nd leg - FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders FC - 9:30PM Monday, November 10 CenturyLink Field
For those not familiar with the MLS Cup playoff format, the top five teams in each conference make the playoffs.
Fourth place hosts fifth place in a one-game wild card playoff with the winner playing the top seed in a two-leg semifinal while second will play third also in a two-leg playoff. The two-leg playoff rounds will feature home games at both stadiums and whoever has the highest combined score will advance. The lower seed will host the first game while the higher seed will host the second match.
The winners of the semifinals will play each other in a two-leg conference final and the winners of the conference finals will play in the one-game MLS Cup played at the home of the remaining team with the most points earned in the regular season.
Not a ton of highlights in this one, but there's only one that matters. Here are your #COLvFCD match highlights:
Just two weekends remain in the MLS regular season. Can you believe it? FC Dallas clinched the playoffs with last week's heart-stopping win over Los Angeles and now they turn their sights to earning the #3 seed which would ensure not having to play in the 4th vs 5th wild card game. Here's the playoff breakdown:
1. Seattle Sounders FC
60 points(+13 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss vs Vancouver - Next match: 10/19 at Los Angeles - Last 5: L-W-W-L-L
The Sounders surprisingly fell to Vancouver at home, a result that puts their Supporters Shield aspirations very much in doubt. They end the season with back-to-back games against LA and will clinch the Shield with a win in either match.
2. LA Galaxy
60 points(+34 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 loss at FC Dallas - Next match: 10/19 vs Seattle - Last 5: L-W-W-W-D
The Galaxy lost their first game of the season after scoring first in a 2-1 loss at FCD on Sunday. It was really a missed opportunity with Seattle having lost earlier in the weekend. They'll host the Sounders on Sunday and need four points from their two games against Seattle to clinch the Shield.
3. Real Salt Lake
52 points(+13 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 2-0 win vs San Jose - Next match: 10/17 at Portland - Last 5: W-L-L-W-L
Jeff Cassar's side stopped a slide with a much-needed win against San Jose at home on Saturday. They've got a tricky test at Portland on Friday night and need a win to keep off hard-charging FCD and stay in control of their own destiny in the race for the third seed.
4. FC Dallas
51 points(+11 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 win vs LA Galaxy - Next match: 10/18 at Colorado - Last 5: W-L-W-L-W
FC Dallas got a huge win against Los Angeles that took a ton of pressure off Oscar Pareja's side. They need one point to clinch a home playoff game and could leapfrog RSL for the third spot, though they'll need to ensure three points against a Colorado team that hasn't won since July. **NOTE** The first tiebreaker is wins and FC Dallas currently has one more than RSL with 15, so a tie in the standings would see FCD jump RSL.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
46 points(+1 GD) - 2 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 win at Seattle - Next match: 10/18 at San Jose - Last 5: W-W-W-L-L
The Whitecaps scored another hugely impressive result winning at Seattle last weekend to stay above Portland for the final playoff spot. The Whitecaps have their toughest test left on Saturday with a tricky trip to San Jose. Two wins from their final two will ensure a playoff spot for Carl Robinson's side.
6. Portland Timbers FC
45 points(+4 GD) - 3 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win vs San Jose - Next match: 10/17 vs Real Salt Lake - Last 5: W-W-L-W-D
Caleb Porter's men easily dispatched San Jose 3-0 to keep pace with Vancouver for the final playoff spot. They have a tough test against RSL on Friday before finishing the season at FC Dallas. Things look pretty difficult for the Timbers when you compare schedules between the two sides but Porter's side has shown amazing resiliency.
FCD PLAYOFF SCENARIOS:
FC Dallas will clinch a home playoff game if:
-Vancouver fails to defeat San Jose
-FC Dallas wins or draws at Colorado
IF THE SEASON ENDED TODAY:
If there were no games left and we were looking forward to the start of the playoffs, here are the current matchups:
WILD CARD GAME
Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Seattle Sounders FC vs FC Dallas/Vancouver Whitecaps FC
LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake
Scott and Daniel break down the three keys to Saturday's game in Colorado: