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MLS Cup Playoffs: FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: What to watch for

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Time to look at the ways FC Dallas can advance in tonight's match.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are. Opinions were split at the year's outset as to whether or not this team would be in the playoffs, but, in the pit of our hearts, I would say it isn't a surprise at all that they made it here.

For the first time since 2011, here's what to watch for in tonight's MLS Cup Playoff game:

Not just how you finish, but how you start

Saturday night, FC Dallas did not come out as the better-motivated team. Maybe that's because Portland was chasing for a playoff spot, not just position, or maybe it was something else. Regardless, it can not happen again.

Tonight is a match that doesn't allow do-overs, excuses, or anything less than 110%. This team must come out of the gates, move the ball wide and put up shots early, or the team will begin to lose steam like they did for the first two thirds of Saturday's game.

If we're wide, we won't be denied

This season, the team has found great success when they go wide with their speedy wingers Fabian and Andres. Andy O' Brien and Kendall Waston formed as good of a central defense as any down the stretch, playing a large role in the 'Caps four straight clean sheets to end the season. Look for the Hoops to at least start out wide in their buildup rather then go directly at the central defense.

Any room for Super Mauro

Even if Balotelli had it first, it fits Mauro Diaz much better. At least, that's what we thought when the young Argentinian was healthy. Diaz has now returned fully from his most recent injury, but everyone's a bit unsure where he fits in now. Diaz got 90 minutes in over the past two games combined, so, does he get a start at attacking mid? Or does the team stick with what gave them so much late-season success? Personally, I like Mauro on the pitch because it gives players a place to give the ball to and receive the ball from. But, that's my opinion, and I'm not Oscar Pareja.

Just, go after it

I'm just excited to see this team get their shot. It's been so long, and I think it's very well-deserved. I hope for a rowdy Toyota Stadium crowd, a scene of waving rally scarves, and a team that just won't be denied. Frisco has been unkind to our northern counterparts historically and I hope that's no different tonight.

However you can do it, get there. Get in your seat early, and cheer on the boys. I'm making the trip down from Norman this afternoon and I cannot wait to see all you FCD faithful. DTID!