Smiles and frowns - Sportsnet


Gerry Dobson

Dwayne DeRosario was positively beaming when I ran into him after Thursday night's stunning conclusion to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. The tournament MVP had just shown why he's the most dynamic player in the short history of Toronto FC.

From the outset of the final game in the championship DeRosario played like a man possessed. Here was a guy who hates to lose and absolutely refused to lose on this occasion. And so the Canada striker has lifted his team to its first ever trophy, and in doing so, DeRosario has cemented his status as unquestioned leader of this outfit going forward.

It was also hard to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps and coach Teitur Thordarson to sit through pouring rain while their visions of a Champions League run frittered away with each Toronto goal. They were all there expecting and waiting to be crowned. Ironically they were in town anyway with a USL fixture on the weekend against Montreal.

Oh yes - the Impact. Here's a team which has never recovered from their infamous wintertime meltdown in Mexico when a sure victory was snatched away by a couple of added-time goals. A pair of coaching changes and some questionable personnel decisions are not sitting well inside their troubled locker room.

With five injured players and two other starters away for other reasons, how does influential midfielder Sandro Grande wind up on the bench? How does any team give up six goals at home?

Impact coach Marc Dos Santos made no bones about the fact this game was not nearly as important as the upcoming league fixture with the Whitecaps. That might be true but now he's stirred up a hornet's nest. He's got a Vancouver team in front of him steaming mad and the Whitecaps will be looking to put six behind Matt Jordan as well.

There's another question. Srdjan Djekanovic in goal instead of Matt Jordan? Yikes.

And so the fortunes of the three Canadian teams have turned. The defending champions are in disarray. The stunned and disappointed Whitecaps are looking for revenge. And Toronto FC who were the favorites in the beginning anyway, have now tossed a horrific three-game losing streak into the history bin. The bean-counters will be happy with visions of a batch of Champions League home matches on the horizon, cha-ching, cha-ching.

TFC's league fortunes look brighter as well with Canadian international striker Ali Gerba poised to make his debut. Looks like it will be delayed however. Word is he won't be available until mid-July. Perhaps a call by Canadian head coach Stephen Hart is in the cards. A few Gold Cup tune-ups sounds like just the ticket to get him match fit for the stretch run and busy second half that awaits the 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Champions.

Finally, kudos to the several hundred TFC supporters who made the trip to Montreal. In the end, with the rain pouring down, they slowly began to outnumber the disinterested home fans who made for the exits when the result became inevitable. It made for quite a celebration.