Whitecaps closing in on Canadian soccer title - Vancouver Sun

BY IAN WALKER

VANCOUVER - It was a side of Teitur Thordarson you don't get to see very often - his backside.

But there he was in the moments after the Vancouver Whitecaps' 2-0 shutout victory over Toronto FC in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship, pulling off a front roll for all 5,688 fans in attendance to see. It was a thing of beauty - the Whitecaps win that is - and the somersault wasn't too shabby either.

``I was just delighted,'' said the usually reserved Thordarson, now in his second season as the Whitecaps' head coach. ``I just felt so happy we managed to beat them and score two goals.''

While the Whitecaps accomplished everything they set out to do with the win, they still find themselves in soccer purgatory. The defending United Soccer League First Division champions await the Nutrilite tournament's final game between TFC of Major League Soccer and the USL's Montreal Impact on June 18. Anything less than a four-goal victory for Toronto and Vancouver wins the Voyageur's Cup and Canada's entry into the preliminary round of the global competition.

``We have a lot of important games, so it's not like we will be sitting around and concentrating on that,'' said Thordarson. ``Of course if it ends up we go through we'll be very pleased.''

Ansu Toure scored both Vancouver markers. The game-winner coming off Wes Knight's rebound in the 31st minute. The goal was Toure's first as a Whitecap and came less than one minute after he unleashed a boot from 30-metres out that went just wide of the Toronto goal. Toure's insurance marker came in the 81st minute, a left-footed strike off to finish a pretty give-and-go with veteran striker Charles Gbeke. It was easily the Libyan-born midfielder's best game as a Whitecap since joining the team in the off-season.

``I just want to say without my teammates I wouldn't have scored those goals, '' said Toure, 27, who spent last season with Vancouver's USL-1 rival Rochester Rhinos. ``It means a lot. Toronto is a good team so to score against them makes me very happy.''

Toronto did have its chances. None better than on two separate occasions in the final minutes before halftime. Whitecaps defender Lyle Martin had to sweep a ball off the goal-line in the 38th minute, just before TFC forward Pablo Vitti blasted a shot off the post a few minutes later. Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly robber Chad Barrett on a header early in the second half. And there were more.

``I owe a lot to our defensive system,'' said Nolly, who has allowed just one goal in four tournament games. ``And sometimes things go your way.''

Thordarson wasn't sharing what he had in store should the Whitecaps advance to the preliminary round of the Champions League. Chances are it will have nothing on his post-game celebration on Tuesday.

``It's a side of me you don't see very often,'' he said, followed by a hearty laugh.

* The Whitecaps were without midfielder Martin Nash, who received his second yellow card of the tournament in last week's win over Montreal. Nash was replaced by Gordon Chin, who filled in admirably for the Vancouver captain. Toronto was without its leading scorer, Amado Guevara of Honduras, and speedy American defender Marvell Wynne, both of whom were representing their respective countries in international competition. A late scratch was starting goalie Stefan Frei (foot) due to injury.

* Toronto's Kevin Harmse was booked in 63rd minute and will miss the finale against Montreal as a result of picking up his second yellow card of the tournament.

Vancouver Sun

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