Challenge: To score goals

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

Defending first division champion Vancouver Whitecaps open the United Soccer Leagues' playoffs tonight at Swangard Stadium, but they'll need to score goals to eliminate the Portland Timbers (7 p.m. Team 1040/Shaw TV).

The 9-7-12, seventh-place Whitecaps scored only nine times in the last 14 games.

"The last two games we created a bundle of chances," said midfielder Martin Nash. "If we weren't creating chances I'd be a bit worried."

They had two scoreless ties and a 2-1 loss in three meetings with second-place Portland and its league-leading goalkeeper Josh Wicks.

Whitecaps' head coach Bob Lilley released Wicks in the off-season after Tony Caig's backup realized he wouldn't get ample playing time in 2007. Caig quit the Whitecaps in June and the team hasn't been the same since. They enter the playoffs with two wins and two ties after a club record 12-game winless streak.

The two-game, total goals quarterfinal series concludes Sunday in Portland (5 p.m. Team 1040/Fox Soccer Channel).


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