Looking to win their first-ever Voyageurs Cup title, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-0L-1D in ACC) visit three-time defending champions and Major League Soccer rivals Toronto FC (1W-0L-2D in ACC) in the decisive second leg of the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) final on Wednesday evening.
Just like last year’s Canadian Championship finale, Whitecaps FC travel to Toronto’s BMO Field looking for a positive result after a 1-1 first-leg draw on Bell Pitch at BC Place last week. With The Reds holding a slight advantage after scoring an ‘Away Goal’ in Vancouver, the ‘Caps will look for their first win at BMO Field since Canada Day (July 1) 2008. They meet a TFC side who will be keen to win a fourth-straight Voyageurs Cup title after a challenging start to their 2012 MLS campaign.
Wednesday’s ACC final, second leg, between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC from BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, kicks off at 5 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet ONE. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s second leg live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-match show at 3 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-match show. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s second leg on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
AMWAY CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
As in 2011, this year’s Amway Canadian Championship has been contested by four Canadian clubs - Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal from MLS, as well as Edmonton from the second-tier NASL. The tournament will consist of a home-and-away semifinal stage followed by a home-and-away championship final series. The semifinal pairings were based on the final standings of the four clubs in their respective leagues last season. Three-time defending champions Toronto FC are the top seed, while last year’s runners-up Whitecaps FC are the second seed after The Reds finished above Vancouver in MLS in 2011. FC Edmonton are the third seed after finishing above MLS expansion side Montreal Impact in the 2011 NASL standings, as the Quebec club were part of North America’s second division last year.
In the semifinals, Whitecaps FC defeated FC Edmonton 5-1 on aggregate, while Toronto FC defeated Eastern Canadian rivals Montreal 2-0 on aggregate. The two-leg championship final between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC started at BC Place last Wednesday night and finished in a 1-1 draw, with TFC holding the advantage of scoring an ‘Away Goal’, heading into this Wednesday’s second leg in Toronto. As the highest-seeded team, Toronto FC opted to play last week’s first leg in Vancouver and this week’s second leg at their BMO Field home.
During the final series, if both clubs are level on aggregate over the two games, the 'Away Goals' rule will be used to determine the series winner (ie: the club that scores the most goals on the road over the two games). If the 'Away Goals' rule does not produce a result (ie: both teams have scored the same number of goals at home and away), then two 15-minute periods of extra time will be played at the end of the second leg. If, during extra time, both teams score the same number of goals, the visiting team will win the series on the strength of the number of 'Away Goals' they have scored in the extra-time period. If no goals are scored during extra time, the series will then be determined with a penalty shootout.
The winner of the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship not only claim the Voyageurs Cup title and the bragging rights as Canada's top club, they will also represent Canada in the 2012-13 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, where they will play the top clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The winner of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League title will then represent the confederation at the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
Though they left it late to earn a draw in the first leg, Whitecaps FC know what they have to do in Toronto - score goals and claim victory. There are motivating factors from which the Blue and White can use for inspiration at BMO Field. Last year’s final, second leg, remains a memory for many in Martin Rennie’s squad after the original match was washed out by a thunderstorm on May 25, 2011, before TFC won the replay on July 2, 2011. The ‘Caps can also take motivation from last Saturday’s respectable 2-2 home draw with Cascadia Cup rivals Seattle Sounders FC, even though the Emerald City outfit struck a late equalizer for a share of the spoils at BC Place. It was a Vancouver performance that had one of the top clubs in MLS under pressure for large spells of the derby contest.
The availability of a near fully-fit squad during this very busy spell has been a blessing for Rennie, with another Cascadia Cup derby clash at Portland Timbers to follow Wednesday’s big match in Toronto. Only goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre and striker Atiba Harris (both knee) remain on the sidelines.
Having won the last three Canadian Championship titles, the importance of Wednesday’s second leg to TFC’s 2012 season cannot be understated. The Reds’ struggles in MLS have put more emphasis on re-claiming the Voyageurs Cup and returning to the CONCACAF Champions League after last Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at D.C. United took their MLS record to a woeful 0W-9L-0D. Yet, Aron Winter’s side can take inspiration from their overall form in the ACC, as last week’s first-leg result extended their unbeaten run in the competition to 12 matches (7W-0L-5D). TFC performed well versus the ‘Caps at BC Place and a repeat display will be needed, if they are to continue their reign as the top club side in Canada.
TFC hope to have captain Torsten Frings available for the second leg, even though the former German international is listed as questionable with a shoulder sprain. The Reds are without goalkeeper Stefan Frei (lower leg), defenders Logan Emory (shoulder) and Aaron Maund (eye), as well as striker Nicholas Lindsay (knee) for Wednesday’s match. Chilean centre back Miguel Aceval (quad) is listed as doubtful, while Jamaican defender Dicoy Williams (knee) is also listed as questionable.
Wednesday’s second leg will be the 12th all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC. Before their two clashes in MLS last season, the first six meetings came in the first three editions of the Canadian Championship when Vancouver was a North American second division club. Since 2008, Whitecaps FC have amassed a 3W-3L-5D record versus TFC. This includes a record of 1W-3L-1D versus The Reds in Toronto. Following this ACC final series, both clubs will meet again in MLS action at BMO Field on Wednesday, July 11.
There are several player connections between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC. ‘Caps midfielder Russell Teibert was a member of TFC Academy before joining Whitecaps FC Residency in 2008. Rennie’s assistant Carl Robinson spent three seasons as a player with TFC, where he was twice named the club’s Most Valuable Player. The Reds roster includes centre back Adrian Cann, who won a United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) title with Whitecaps FC in 2006, while Vancouver native Terry Dunfield spent parts of 2010 and 2011 with the Blue and White.
BLUE & WHITE IN TORONTO
Wednesday’s match is also the 35th time that Whitecaps FC have played in Toronto in the club’s history, with Vancouver registering an all-time record of 11W-19L-4D in Canada’s largest city. Between 1974 and 2011, the 'Caps have played no less than seven different Toronto-based clubs.
In the days of the old North American Soccer League, Whitecaps FC had three wins and six defeats in away matches versus Toronto Metros, Toronto Metros-Croatia, and Toronto Blizzard between 1974 and 1984. In the Canadian Soccer League years of 1987 to 1992, Vancouver had one win, four defeats, and three draws versus the CSL's Blizzard in Toronto, while in the American Professional Soccer League, the club won and lost twice on the road to the Blizzard in 1993 and Toronto Rockets in 1994.
Vancouver's more recent exploits with Southern Ontario opposition came in the form of ex-USL-1 club Toronto Lynx between 1998 and 2006. Though Whitecaps FC hold the all-time set of results, they recorded four wins and four defeats versus the Lynx in Toronto during that time.
NEXT STOP: THE CITY OF ROSES
Following Wednesday's ACC final, second leg, Whitecaps FC will remain on the road to wrap up a very busy month of May, as they head to The City of Roses for their second Cascadia Cup match of the season versus Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers. Kickoff from JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon, is set for 7 p.m. PT and is live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Whitecaps FC 2012 match packs are on available. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase match packs, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.