USL semifinals set with both series' starting in Canada
The final four participants in the USL First Division playoffs are set for the upcoming week with the idle regular season champion Portland Timbers returning to action against rival Vancouver as Montreal and Puerto Rico square off in the other semifinal series.
The opening legs will be Thursday October 1 with the second legs on Sunday, October 4.
The Commissioner's Cup winners will have a familiar foe in defending champion Vancouver when the two square off. The Northwest rival Whitecaps handed Portland a defeat in the opening game of the year before the Timbers went on to post 24 consecutive games without a loss to shatter the league record.
Portland will be opening their 2009 postseason after receiving a bye to the semifinals as the regular season champion. Vancouver, meanwhile, is coming off a 1-0 series victory over the second-seeded Carolina RailHawks in which they scored the lone goal at home in the opening leg and battled to a scoreless stalemate on the road.
The series will open in Vancouver Thursday evening at 10:30 pm ET on USLlive.com with the second match Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel at 7:00 pm ET.
The two USL participants in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League last fall/spring will square off in the semifinals as the Puerto Rico Islanders, seeded third, avoided upset in the Quarterfinals and the fifth-seeded Montreal Impact posted an upset.
Puerto Rico, for the second straight year, rallied from a first-leg deficit against the Rochester Rhinos, whom they knocked out last year in the semifinals. Trailing 2-1, the Islanders rolled to a 4-1 victory in the second leg at home Sunday to advance to the second stage of the playoffs. Montreal, was the lone team in the three quarterfinal series to post victories in both legs, winning at home 2-0 and taking a 2-1 decision on the road to advance.
The series will open in Montreal Thursday night at 7:30 pm ET and will wrap up Sunday in Bayamon at 6:00 pm ET. Both matches will be available on USLlive.com.
The winners will advance to the USL First Division Championship Series, which will be a two-leg, aggregate score series held October 10 and 17.