Squaring off in the Western Conference Semifinals Saturday night at UBC Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. are the Vancouver Whitecaps 2 and the Oklahoma City Energy FC.
Having defeated stronger oppositions in the conference’s quarterfinals last week, the sixth and seventh seeds will face off at noon on Saturday, October 8th, representing the season’s third matchup between the two sides.
In the previous meetings, the Vancouver Whitecaps 2 have come out on top, compiling a decent record of 1-0-1. The Whitecaps’ one and only win came late this season on September 21st when Maco Bustos scored an impressive two goals to give his side an effortless win. The other in-season draw took place earlier in the year at Taft Stadium, ending in a 1-1 tie as FC Dallas loanee Coy Craft scored the game-tying goal late in the match.
Showing prolific and exceptional attitudes and desire in their opening playoff matches, Saturday night’s match should prove to be a ruthless battle between the lower-seeded sides. Ending their respective season’s on a low note, both clubs have shown their professionalism in the post-season.
Possessing MLS-ready squads, both clubs have what it takes to move on further into the postseason. With only eight teams left in the USL playoffs, it is difficult to not see one of these two sides make it to the league’s final.
Showing that they are capable of winning away, the Oklahoma City Energy FC will travel far north to British Columbia once again this year. Although the Energy previously lost in Vancouver, their recent victory in South Texas gives much-needed hope to a hard-beaten Energy side.
Predicted Score: Throughout the season I have knocked the Energy for not being able to win in the big matches. However, with their most recent spontaneous victory against the Toros, I predict that the Energy will travel to Vancouver and win epically, 3-2. Goals will be provided by Thomas, Konig, and Bonner.
Players to Watch:
Colin Bonner (Energy FC): It was FC Dallas loanee Colin Bonner who shined in the Energy’s thrilling, 3-2, win over the Rio Grande Valley Toros last weekend. Providing the spark for Jimmy Nielsen’s side, the 22-year-old striker took to the field late in the second half to help produce a winning result for his seventh-seed playoff side. Playing for a meager 22 minutes, Bonner scored the Energy’s final two goals of the match, which both tied and won his club the match. Having somewhat of a shaky first season with the Energy, the FC Dallas loanee has found multiple ways to impress fans and pundits alike, potentially earning himself a starting position in the Energy’s second playoff match this weekend against Vancouver.
Kyle Greig (Vancouver Whitecaps 2): Leading his club in scoring, former Energy FC striker Kyle Greig is set to face off against his former side for the third time this year. Combining for a total of 11 goals and three assists in his 2016 USL regular season, Greig has continued to show week-in-and-week-out why he is one of the best strikers in the league. Since the 26-year-old’s departure from OKC last season, it has been clearly noticeable on the offensive end for the Energy. Scoring one of the two goals in Vancouver’s 2-1 win against the Colorado Switchbacks last week, Greig will surely be tipped to add to his impressive 2016 tally.
GOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLL: 17' Greig finds the equalizer! pic.twitter.com/y0O6AGzydB— Whitecaps FC 2 (@wfc2) October 1, 2016
Predicted Starting Lineups:
OKC Energy FC: Cody Laurendi; Michael Harris, Cyprian Hendrick, Coady Andrew, Kalen Ryden; Daniel Gonzalez, Michael Byskov, Michael Thomas, Kyle Hyland; Colin Bonner, Danni Konig
Vancouver Whitecaps 2: Spencer Richey; Kadin Chung, Sem de Wit, Cole Seiler, Brett Levis; Kianz Froese; Thomas Gardner, Matthew Baldisimo; Daniel Haber, Kyle Greig, Marco Bustos
- Saturday, October 8th at 2:00 p.m. CT
- Thunderbird Stadium: University of British Columbia; Vancouver, B.C.
- REF: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
- AR1: Stephen Lebrechthausen
- AR2: Stefan Tanaka-Freundt
- 4TH: TBA
- Oklahoma City Energy: 43 points (10 wins, 7 losses, 13 draws)
- Vancouver Whitecaps: 45 points (12 wins, 9 losses, 9 draws)
- Goals (OKC): Wojciech Wojcik, Danni Konig, Michael Thomas, Colin Bonner 4
- Goals (VWFC2): Kyle Greig, 12
- Assists (OKC): Michael Thomas, 5
- Assists (VWFC2): Daniel Haber, 4