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San Diego Flash 2 - Vancouver Whitecaps 0

Douglas Stadium, San Diego, CA (attendance: N/A)

The Whitecaps suffered a 2-0 loss in their opening game of the A-League playoffs in San Diego on Wednesday night. The two-game total-goal series now heads back to Vancouver for a match Saturday, September 29, in which the Whitecaps need to win by at least two goals or be eliminated.

After a three-week layoff, the Whitecaps came out flat against a hard-working San Diego side that hasn't lost at home since June 7. Vancouver managed to hold the game scoreless for over an hour, but repeated defensive mistakes finally proved costly as Mexican forward Hugo Alcaraz capitalised on a give-away to chip Vancouver goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld. A 1-0 loss wouldn't have been too bad from a Vancouver perspective, but with six minutes remaining, a turnover in midfield allowed speedy Cameroon striker Emmanuel Ayim to break in all alone to make it 2-0. Rookie goalkeeper Matt Hall got the shutout for San Diego.

The Caps now have their work cut out for them in Saturday's return leg. A Vancouver win by three or more goals would give the Whitecaps the series win and send them to the A-League semi-finals. A Vancouver win by two goals would tie the total-goal series, and force 30 minutes of sudden-death overtime, and if necessary, a penalty kick tie-breaker. A Vancouver win by only one goal, or a tie or a loss, would put San Diego through and end Vancouver's season.

The Whitecaps will be hoping for a repeat of their last home game against San Diego, a 3-0 win on July 22. The Flash on the other hand will be looking to repeat their first round success when they tied 2-2 in Atlanta after winning game one at home 2-0 to take that series 4-2. San Diego are the hottest team in the A-League with eight wins and a tie in their last nine games.

Saturday's game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Swangard Stadium, with tickets available from Ticketmaster at 604-280-4400. The winner of the series advances to play the winner of the Hershey Wildcats vs Portland Timbers series which opens Thrursday in Portland and concludes Saturday.

Whitecaps Line-Up:
G: Lars Hirschfeld
D: Steve McCauley, Chris Franks, Rick Titus, Jeff Skinner
M: Dave Morris (John Sulentic 71'), Kevin Holness, Oliver Heald (Tiarnan King 73'), Alfredo Valente
F: Jason Jordan, Steve Kindel

Scoring Summary

67' S.D. Hugo Alcaraz (Brian O'Conner)
A bad back pass was picked off allowing Alacraz to chip goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld.

84' S.D. Emmanuel Ayim (P.J. Brown)
Brown stole the ball in midfield and fed Ayim who broke in alone from 35 yards.

Alan Douglas, Soccer Information
Vancouver Whitecaps and Breakers Soccer Clubs

Many Thanks to News Digger John Zukas who scours up all of the local news links during the year.