Toronto now in must-win situation versus Montreal after 2-2 draw
On Canada Day, the Vancouver Whitecaps punched their big brothers from Toronto right in the gut. On Wednesday night, TFC made sure little brother didn't make off with their girlfriends, too.
Second-half goals from Maurice Edu and Rohan Ricketts saved the day for the Major League Soccer side, who after Eddy Sebrango's 43rd-minute strike looked in serious danger of losing out to the Montreal Impact for Canada's berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Sebrango capped a dramatic night with the tying goal in minute 87, and the 2-2 draw in front of an estimated 5,600 at Swangard Stadium sets up a must-win home game for TFC against Montreal on July 22 -- the final tilt in this inaugural Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
It's a relatively simple task compared to the challenge that would have faced TFC if they had lost again to Vancouver: a win by three or more goals against the Impact.
"We showed great character," said Caps head coach Teitur Thordarson, whose side would have loved to have struck a bigger blow for the lower-tier USL after the barbs exchanged in recent days.
"We were caught a little bit [by their] speed, but overall I'm very happy with what we've done in the two games against Toronto.
"We destroyed our chances [of qualifying] with not making a better result against Montreal."
Edu equalized in the 60th minute and 15 minutes later Ricketts put the visitors ahead, slotting the ball inside the near post on Jay Nolly from the left side.
For his second, Sebrango outmuscled Edu for the ball then danced around keeper Greg Sutton and rolled it in to send the fans home on a positive note.
The atmosphere wasn't exactly BMO Field, and most didn't wear blue as the Caps urged them to, but the stands were packed and it was another entertaining clash between these two squads.
"It's like a derby game because of the rivalry," TFC head coach John Carver said.
"I think it would be great for Canada, great for the national team," he added of Vancouver and Montreal gaining acceptance into MLS.
Playing without defender and captain Jim Brennan (suspension) and star forward Danny Dichio (suspected concussion), TFC controlled play in the opening 45 and came up empty on three great scoring chances.
They were also perhaps unlucky to not be awarded a penalty kick in minute 64 when Jeff Cunningham broke in alone and appeared to be pulled down by Nolly after a terrific first save.
The two head coaches, who traded verbal shots this week over officiating and the Caps' style of play, were on better behaviour.
Carver said after he enjoyed the exchange of ideas.
"It's great," he said of the trash talk. "I love all that. Especially when people bite."
The Whitecaps (7-4-2) return to USL-1 action Sunday against the Carolina RailHawks (4-4-6).