BURNABY, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps hurt Toronto FC's chances to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League for the second week in a row.
A back-and-forth battle between Toronto of Major League Soccer and the Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer Leagues ended in a 2-2 draw in front of a standing-room only crowd Wednesday in Nutrilite Canadian Championship play.
Toronto was looking for revenge after the Whitecaps claimed a 1-0 victory July 1 at BMO Field, but Whitecaps leading scorer Eduardo Sebrango notched his second goal in the 87th minute to tie the game and deny Toronto a win.
"Given that there was something at stake and we beat them in their own house, I think tensions were boiling over a little," Whitecaps captain Jeff Clarke said after the game. "We're going to be happy with the performance but not the result. But when you're playing against a higher tier, they're going to make you pay."
With the tie, Toronto must win against the USL's Montreal Impact in the final match of the championship on July 22 in order to advance to the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League against Nicaraguan champions Real Esteli. If they lose or tie, Montreal will be the Canadian champ and advance to the next stage.
Tensions had been building between the two teams after Toronto coach John Carver criticized the refereeing in last week's loss to the Whitecaps in the media Tuesday.
Vancouver coach Teitur Thordarson hit back after his team's practice.
"That's bull," Thordarson said .He should just focus on his own way of playing."
That set up a hard-fought, chippy match which kept referee Carole Anne Chenard's hands full with fouls and shoving matches galore in the second half.
Carver was more charitable after Wednesday's game. He called Chenard's refereeing "fantastic" and praised the quality of the rivalry between the two teams.
"Although it's five hours on an airplane, it was like a derby game," Carver said. "You can sense it out there. There was a rivalry between myself and their coach, and it's great. I love all that - especially when people bite."
Vancouver opened the scoring in the 43rd minute against the flow of play. Justin Moose hit a powerful shot from just inside the 18-yard box, which Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton knocked right back to Moose's feet.
With only one defender back, Moose tapped the ball to Sebrango, who comfortably hit the ball low past Sutton.
Toronto almost answered back two minutes later. Tyrone Marshall took advantage of a mistake by Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly, who fumbled a free kick by Amado Guevara. At the edge of the six-yard box, Marshall got his own rebound after a shot off a sprawling Nolly, but he put his second shot wide.
Toronto finally got their first goal in the 60th minute after Maurice Edu received a cross in the 18-yard box. Edu chipped the ball over Nolly, who was well off his line.
Five minutes later, Jeff Cunningham broke into the box on a breakaway. He got past Nolly, but the Vancouver goalkeeper turned around and grabbed the ball off Cunningham's feet, tripping the Toronto striker in the process. However, Chenard refrained from calling a penalty.
Toronto went ahead in the 75th minute, after a crisp, precise pass from Guevara found Rohan Ricketts. His powerful strike beat Nolly on the short side.
Sebrango equalized with his second goal of the game in the 87th minute after he dribbled past Edu into the 18-yard box. Sutton came out to challenge Sebrango, but the Vancouver striker kept his cool and put a low strike past Sutton.