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FOLLOW LIVE - Chicago, Vancouver host MLS Cup Playoff openers

Chicago Fire

Chicago’s surprising resurgence and Vancouver’s last day let down provide the backdrop for home sides of Wednesday’s first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Fire, led by Veljko Paunovic, went from playoff afterthought to Eastern Conference three seed ahead of Wednesday’s visit from New York Red Bulls.

[ FOLLOW: MLS first round scores, play-by-play ]

RBNY had an up-and-down season, but their playoff experience and veteran mettle give little reason to believe they’re an underdog short of playing the visitors’ role.

That one kicks off somewhere after 8:30 p.m. ET, two hours before the Whitecaps of Vancouver host sixth-seed San Jose Earthquakes.

The Caps will have to rebound from dipping out of the West’s No. 1 seed on Sunday, and tangle with a San Jose side riding the emotional high of a playoff spot clinching, final gasp defeat of Minnesota United on Decision Day.

Follow @NicholasMendola