TORONTO, ON - In the second leg of the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) final, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-1L-1D in ACC) fell 1-0 at Major League Soccer rivals Toronto FC (2W-0L-2D in ACC) on Wednesday evening to lose the two-leg final 2-1 on aggregate.
A late strike by Reggie Lambe secured TFC’s fourth-straight Voyageurs Cup title and a return to the CONCACAF Champions League - this time for the 2012-13 season. In what was a tense and scrappy second-leg battle in front of 13,777 at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, both sides finished with ten men after TFC’s Julian de Guzman and Whitecaps FC striker Sebastien Le Toux were both sent off near the hour mark. Though they pressed hard to the end, the Blue and White will be extremely disappointed that their quest to win the Voyageurs Cup title for the first time continues.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with how the game went,” said Whitecaps FC head Martin Rennie. “It’s always hard to lose a cup final, and especially if you don’t feel like you got to the level that you would hope and you would like to. Cup finals are often very close and tight games. If you get chances, you’ve got to take them, and we didn’t do that tonight. We have to dust ourselves off and start looking forward to making a run at the MLS Cup Playoffs, starting on Saturday against Portland.”
Rennie made three changes to the side that started last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC in MLS. John Thorrington came into midfield, while Eric Hassli and Camilo Sanvezzo returned to Vancouver’s attack. TFC, meanwhile, had captain Torsten Frings return to the home side’s starting XI after the former German international overcame a shoulder injury.
A breezy and warm evening greeted both sets of players in Southern Ontario, with the ‘Caps wearing their all ‘deep sea’ blue kit for this decisive second leg. With plenty at stake, the first half showed the tension of the occasion, as both sides struggled to get their game plans on full track. TFC made the brighter start, with Joao Plata creating a couple of chances. The best of those opportunities came on seven minutes, as the Ecuadorian headed Frings’ fine cross across the face of the Vancouver goal.
Though they struggled to create much before the break, Whitecaps FC had a couple of opportunities around the midway point of the first half. Alain Rochat headed Camilo’s free kick wide of the near post before Thorrington powered a shot just wide of the target on 23 minutes.
The last chance of the half fell to The Reds on 37 minutes, but Frings drilled an indirect free kick wide of the near post. It remained scoreless at halftime, with the ‘Caps still in need of a goal to turn the final series back in their favour.
Needing to find a breakthrough in the second half, Whitecaps FC still struggled to create much going forward after the restart. Instead, it was TFC that had chances, with Frings causing Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon a bit of an issue with his deflected goal-bound strike that came close to crossing the ‘Caps goal line on 56 minutes.
Soon after, a flashpoint occurred that had an impact on the remaining stages of the match. On 58 minutes, a melee in front of the fourth official’s bench saw match referee Silviu Petrescu show a straight red card to TFC midfielder de Guzman for striking out at Whitecaps FC’s Jun Marques Davidson, while Le Toux was shown a second yellow card. It left both sides playing with ten men each for the rest of the game.
As time ticked down, Rennie used his three substitutions. This included Darren Mattocks and Davide Chiumiento coming into the match in a bid to find that elusive ‘Away Goal’. As Vancouver committed men forward, TFC were able to counter-attack. Reds substitute Nick Soolsma found the back of the net on 80 minutes, but the Dutchman was in an offside position when he scored.
It was a sign of things to come. On 83 minutes, TFC assured victory with a second aggregate goal from Lambe. Ryan Johnson’s cross from the left was nodded back into the path of the Bermudan international by Soolsma on the edge of the Vancouver box. The attacker then struck a right-footed shot past Cannon to make it 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.
Though TFC took the lead, Whitecaps FC still needed to score to take the match into extra time. Chiumiento struck a free kick just over the TFC crossbar before five minutes of stoppage time were played. In the end, the final whistle confirmed more Voyageurs Cup joy for The Reds, and more Canadian Championship frustration for Vancouver.
Whitecaps FC will look to quickly put this disappointment behind them, as they wrap up a very busy month of May with a Cascadia Cup derby clash at Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers on Saturday evening. TFC, meanwhile, will look to carry the momentum of Wednesday’s ACC win into Saturday afternoon, as they look for their first points of 2012 in MLS when they host Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia Union.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jay DeMerit
83' - TOR - Reggie Lambe (Nick Soolsma)
Shots: Toronto 13 – Vancouver 4
Shots on Goal: Toronto 3 – Vancouver 0
Saves: Toronto 0 – Vancouver 2
Fouls: Toronto 19 – Vancouver 14
Offsides: Toronto 2 – Vancouver 0
Corners: Toronto 3 – Vancouver 4
31' - TOR - Torsten Frings
35' - VAN - Martin Bonjour
45' - VAN - Sebastien Le Toux
47' - TOR - Ashtone Morgan
58' - VAN - Sebastien Le Toux
75' - TOR - Reggie Lambe
89' - VAN - Darren Mattocks
57' - TOR - Julian de Guzman
58' - VAN - Sebastien Le Toux
30.Milos Kocic; 25.Jeremy Hall, 12.Adrian Cann, 4.Doneil Henry, 5.Ashtone Morgan; 6.Julian de Guzman, 22.Torsten Frings, 8.Eric Avila (27.Richard Eckersley 60'); 19.Reggie Lambe (23.Terry Dunfield 84'), 9.Ryan Johnson, 7.Joao Plata (18.Nick Soolsma 78')
Substitutes not used: 40.Quillan Roberts, 11.Luis Silva, 14.Danny Koevermans, 20.Ty Harden
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat (3.Jordan Harvey 65'); 28.Gershon Koffie, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 11.John Thorrington (20.Davide Chiumiento 73'); 7.Sébastien Le Toux, 29.Eric Hassli, 37.Camilo Sanvezzo (22.Darren Mattocks 66')
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 8.Etienne Barbara, 16.Matt Watson, 17.Omar Salgado