Sebrango keeps head, shirt on - The Province
This time, Eduardo Sebrango kept his shirt on, but it wasn't out of fear.
Just like he did during the Whitecaps title run in 2006, Sebrango on Sunday scored the semifinal goal that sent his team through to the USL-1 championship game -- his short-range tally in the 41st minute capping a 2-0 victory at Swangard Stadium.
And just like in 2006 it came against his former team, the Montreal Impact.
But this time, Sebrango will play in the final. Two seasons ago he was suspended for the title tilt after receiving his second yellow card of the game for stripping off his shirt during his goal celebration.
"I asked before the game, 'Can I take my shirt off?'" said Sebrango, "and they said, 'You're OK, you only have one yellow card [in the playoffs].'"
A third yellow in the playoffs would have also resulted in a one-game suspension. Sebrango, instead, opted for the fully-clothed front flip, landing on his rear end.
"I wanted something new and that was pretty good wasn't it -- for an old man?" he said. "I'm so happy to get this opportunity [to play in the final]."
Vancouver hosts the Puerto Rico Islanders at 4 p.m. Sunday at Swangard Stadium (TEAM 1040 AM, Fox Sports World Canada) in the one-off championship game.
The Whitecaps were just 3-3-4 out of the gate at home including Canadian Championship play, but they are 7-0-2 in their last nine at Swangard.
"If you look at the last five years, six years, Swangard's been a fortress for us," said defender Jeff Clarke. "We worked hard all year to get second place and we were allowed to play this second leg at home, and it totally made the difference," he said of the Montreal game.
Vancouver was 0-1-2 against Puerto Rico this season, tying 0-0 at Swangard then tying 1-1 and losing 1-0 on the road.
The Islanders won their semifinal against Rochester, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on aggregate.
"They're a great team, very athletic, extremely dynamic and they have a deep squad," Clarke said. "They are fun games ... because they really open up and it's end-to-end."
© The Vancouver Province 2008