Only 30 minutes away from their first Voyageurs Cup title, Vancouver Whitecaps FC were dealt a dramatic twist in their quest for Canadian glory, as the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship against Toronto FC was abandoned at BMO Field due to unplayable field conditions.
Now the ‘Caps will have to start from scratch, replaying the second leg in its entirety, starting at 0-0 and again in need of a goal to overturn Toronto’s away-goals advantage from the 1-1 draw in the first leg at Empire Field.
“We’re disappointed, of course,” said head coach Teitur Thordarson after the match was abandoned. “The advantage that we had gotten this game doesn’t count, so that is obviously unfair. As far as the conditions, that is the referee’s decision and we have to respect that.”
Whitecaps FC chief executive officer Paul Barber was in attendance at BMO Field and was ready to see his team bring home some silverware - only to be denied by the odd occurrence.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this in the 16 years that I’ve been involved in professional soccer,” said the former Tottenham Hotspur FC executive. “It’s an unprecedented situation tonight.”
“We’re not happy about it,” added Barber. “We were 1-0 up away from home after 59 minutes and were in a very commanding position in a cup final, but rules are rules. From our point of view, we were playing well and we wanted to finish this match. From Toronto’s point of view, obviously it’s a different perspective. At the end of the day, it’s irrelevant.”
This is not the first time that the ‘Caps have been on the cusp of Canadian glory - only to have the title swiped away at the last second. In 2009, Vancouver needed only for Montreal Impact to stay within three goals of TFC in the final match of the former round-robin format of the competition. But with a lackluster effort from Montreal, Toronto FC amazingly won the Voyageurs Cup with a 6-1 win.
“There are definitely [interesting] things happening in this tournament,” said Thordarson. “I felt that we were well on our way [this time], but these are things we can’t do much about and that’s how it is.”
The replay has been tentatively rescheduled for Thursday morning at 8 a.m. PT at BMO Field, but with rain expected through the night, the match could be moved to a later date.
When the game does get replayed, Thordarson is confident that his team will rally again and find the goal they need to become Canadian champions, and if that’s Thursday morning, he will have his team ready.
“I absolutely think we can regroup,” said the 'Caps head coach. “If the game is going to be played tomorrow morning, definitely we will be here, on time.”