Fredy Montero, Vancouver Whitecaps break through, set to face familiar foe

VANCOUVER, B.C.—It was a night of playoff firsts for both the Vancouver Whitecaps and star forward Fredy Montero at BC Place on Wednesday evening.

Montero finished his four previous MLS seasons – all with the Seattle Sounders – as the Rave Green's all-time leading scorer. It's a record he still holds, five years on. Yet the one strike that eluded Montero during his time in Seattle was a postseason goal.

That drought spanned ten matches – most notably four in 2012 –, but it only took the Colombian 33 minutes as a Whitecap to earn his teams' first goal of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. That strike opened the floodgates for Vancouver, who put in an assured performance in a 5-0 Knockout Round rout of the sixth-seeded San Jose Earthquakes.

"It means a lot," Montero said. "It's always special for me playing in these kind of games. As an important player in the team, I just want to do my best. They are expecting me to score in these kind of games, and I did. I'm happy and looking forward to the next one."

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Further second half-goals from Cristian Techera, Kendall Waston, and a brace from 68th-minute substitute Nicolas Mezquida, gave the Whitecaps their first MLS postseason victory.

"I like proving people wrong," said head coach Carl Robinson. "Football's there for records to be broken and we've broke a few since I've been here. That's what you have to do. I'm delighted for everyone involved with the football club tonight.

"We needed a little bit of success, and we got a little bit of success today, but that's all it is. It sets us up nicely for a two-legged playoff game against our rivals up the road, which we'll really look forward to. If we're going to go further, we've got to beat the champs, which is no easy feat."

Despite being the first Western Conference side to clinch a playoff berth, Vancouver have struggled in the season run-in, with just one win in their last five regular-season matches.

Robinson was looking for a reaction from his team. And he got it in some style, describing the victory as "maybe a statement win for us."

"We should have done it three or four times this year, and we haven't," Robinson added. "We didn't take care of business two weeks ago against a very good San Jose team and it came back to bite us on the backside unfortunately.

"I made the guys aware we get a second chance. Let's not let this one slip. And we didn't. We did today what we should have done two weeks ago."

The reward for Vancouver now is a Western Conference Semifinals matchup with Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders. Leg 1 opens at BC Place on Sunday (8:30pm ET | ESPN; TSN1/4, TVAS2), with the return match next Thursday, November 2, at CenturyLink Field (TBD | FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN, TVAS).

It will be the first postseason meeting between the two sides, adding to a storied history that dates back to 1974. Games against Seattle are always special for Montero, but this one should proven even more so.

"It's going to be a hard game," Montero said. "We're going to use this one as a motivation, because we know in these two series games if you can get the result and score a few goals, you can go to the next one waiting for one result. Goals are going to be value in this series.

"Honestly, it was personal the first three times that we played against them," Montero said. "Now, it's about winning the game and advancing to the final of the conference."