It’s been a tough slate of games for Vancouver Whitecaps FC lately, but when they host Toronto FC in the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final at Empire Field on Wednesday (7 p.m. PT, Rogers Sportsnet, TEAM 1410, teamradio.ca), they’ll be taken back to their fondest memory so far this season: a 4-2 opening-day victory in their inaugural MLS match.
However, that isn't the only reason for ‘Caps fans to be optimistic ahead of this important match. Prior to their MLS debut this season, Whitecaps FC maintained an undefeated record in three previous home matches against TFC in the NCC. Below, we take a look at each:
JULY 9, 2008: VANCOUVER 2, TORONTO 2
After losing their first two tournament matches against Montreal Impact, the ‘Caps responded with a clutch 1-0 win in Toronto to stay alive in their final game at home to TFC, albeit with slim odds. Toronto, meanwhile, needed a win at Swangard Stadium to ease the pressure of their tournament finale at home to Montreal.
In need of a three-goal victory, Vancouver got off to a strong start, as Eduardo Sebrango put the home side up 1-0 just before the break. Toronto, though, responded in the second half with goals from Maurice Edu and Rohan Ricketts to put the Reds up 2-1, effectively ending Vancouver’s hopes.
With little but pride left to play for, Teitur Thordarson’s men fought back for a 2-2 draw, as Sebrango netted a second in the 87th minute. As it turns out, this first encounter was the closest Toronto have come to getting a win on the road against the ‘Caps.
The result meant that Montreal needed only a draw in the finale at BMO Field, which they obtained to capture the first-ever Nutrilite Canadian Championship title.
June 2, 2009: VANCOUVER 2, TORONTO 0
Toronto FC looked the early favorites to capture national glory after beating Vancouver 1-0 in the tournament opener - courtesy of a goal from current Whitecaps FC player Kevin Harmse. However, the ‘Caps reeled off consecutive wins over Montreal to put their tournament fate back in their own hands. Or so they thought.
Needing no less than a win to give themselves a shot, Thordarson’s men came out determined to get a result at Swangard Stadium. Two goals from Ansu Toure, including the first set up by a cross from current Whitecaps FC player Wes Knight, gave the ‘Caps a thrilling 2-0 win.
The victory meant that TFC had to beat Montreal on the road by at least four goals to earn the title, an unlikely event.
But unfortunately for Vancouver, the Reds did just that, throttling the Impact 6-1 at Stade Saputo with the ‘Caps in attendance, watching their continental dreams shatter. There will be no such drama this year, as Vancouver and Toronto duke it out head-to-head to determine the winner of the Voyageurs Cup.
May 19, 2010: VANCOUVER 0, TORONTO 0
Still stinging from having the Canadian crown swiped away from them at the last second the previous spring, the ‘Caps looked to get off to a better start in the third edition of the tournament. Toronto came into the match with six points from two wins against Montreal, while Vancouver had only a single point in a draw with the Impact.
In the end, neither team could put the ball in the net, as Jay Nolly earned his second of four clean sheets - out of six tournament games against TFC overall - in a scoreless draw.
Vancouver went on to draw all four of their tournament matches, with TFC’s two wins against Montreal proving the difference, as they captured their second consecutive national title. However, the ‘Caps did maintain their undefeated home record against TFC that day, which they extended to four games (2-0-2) with the season-opening win this year.