Nash penalty, stalwart goalkeeping give Whitecaps win - CBC.ca

NBA star Steve Nash's younger brother Martin scored the lone goal to lead the Vancouver Whitecaps to a 1-0 road victory over Toronto FC in a Canadian Champions League game on a gloriously sunny Canada Day afternoon. While Nash supplied the offence, Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly provided the heroics, making a series of brilliant and athletic saves to record the shutout. Though not exactly a case of David slaying Goliath, the Whitecaps' victory is an upset when you consider the stature of both clubs. Toronto FC sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer, the top pro league in North America. Vancouver plays in the 11-team United Soccer Leagues First Division, one level below MLS. "I thought it was a tale of two halves. We dominated the first half, second half they came at us and held most of the play. We dropped off a bit too much ... but Jay [Nolly] made some great saves, especially at the end to keep us in the game," said Nash. Toronto coach John Carver was seething over his team's "lacklustre" performance in the opening 45 minutes, but faulted himself for the loss. "We lost a game today and I'll take full responsibility because I picked the team and the team that went out there in the first half didn't perform at the level I want," Carver said. "We couldn't pass the ball, there was no communication, there was nothing. It was lifeless." Carver also refused to accept that his team was unlucky. "We weren't unlucky because you have to put those scoring chances away," said Carver. "At the end of the day, we weren't good enough in the first half, that's why we lost. "We threw the kitchen sink at them in the second half ... but Vancouver dug in and stuck at it, and they deserved the win." The Montreal Impact, also of the USL-1, lead the round-robin competition with six points from three games. Vancouver is in second place with three points. Toronto sits third with three points but has a game in hand on both Montreal and Vancouver. The top team in the final standings will be Canada's representative at the CONCACAF Champions League, an international club competition that crowns the best pro team in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Vancouver dominated the first half thanks to forward Eduardo Sebrango and attacking midfielder Justin Moose, who put constant pressure on the Toronto defence. For all of its possession, though, Vancouver rarely threatened to score, unable to carve out any scoring chances in the attacking third of the field. Tensions boiled over in the 10th minute after Toronto's Carl Robinson fouled Nash from behind. Nash didn't take kindly to the rough treatment and got involved in shoving match with Toronto captain Jim Brennan. Both players earned yellow cards, but it was Brennan's second of the tournament, ruling him out for Toronto's next game through suspension. Things went from bad to worse for Brennan when he was called for a foul on Vancouver's Jeff Clarke inside the Toronto penalty area off a corner kick. Brennan complained to the ref that Clarke took a dive, but the penalty shot was awarded and Nash converted to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead after 36 minutes. Looking to give his team a spark, Carver made three substitutions at the start of the second half, adding strikers Jeff Cunningham and Jarrod Smith to the mix. The changes breathed life into Toronto as they immediately swarmed the Vancouver net. With Toronto pressing inside the Vancouver box, Nolly scrambled off his goal-line and then quickly backtracked and made a fantastic diving save on a powerful shot by Maurice Edu. The MLS club continued to press for the duration of the game, but Nolly made a string of outstanding saves to keep the Whitecaps in front. Toronto appeared to tie the game with 10 minutes left in regulation time, but Cunningham, who went into the south stands of the stadium to celebrate with fans after scoring, was ruled offside. Mayhem ensued five minutes later when Smith's shot from inside the six-yard box cannoned off the crossbar and Toronto couldn't score on the ensuing goal-mouth scramble. The next game in the Canadian Champions League sees Toronto FC visit Vancouver on July 9. The tournament wraps up on July 22 when Toronto hosts Montreal (CBC Bold, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).