On the surface, there are few positives to take from a cup final defeat.
But for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who fell to Toronto FC 2-1 on aggregate in the final of the Amway Canadian Championship on Wednesday, there is some solace to be taken from the club’s extremely positive regular season so far.
Contrary to last season, when Whitecaps FC also lost to TFC on the same stage and quickly fell out of the post-season picture in league play, Vancouver are very much in the hunt for a first-ever MLS playoff appearance this time around.
“It’s pretty deflating, to be honest,” goalkeeper Joe Cannon told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 after the match. “We’re all going to take a day or two to let it sink in. But at the same time, the season moves on.
“Unlike last year, when we didn’t have much left to play for, there’s still a lot to play for here - so that’s where we’re headed.”
Vancouver currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, with 18 points from 11 matches. They have a game in hand over the two teams directly behind them in the standings, Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA.
Next up is an away match against Cascadia Cup rivals the Portland Timbers, meaning there’ll be little time to mope about what might have been in Canada’s top soccer competition.
“Everyone uses excuses — these guys are tired and it’s been an emotional four days — but we’re not paid to be emotional: We’re paid to play soccer – including myself,” Cannon said. “We have to pick each other up, and I have to do a good job of making sure my teammates are ready for Saturday, just like everyone on this team has to go around and make sure this game doesn’t turn into a little hangover.
“It’s a challenge for sure, but it’s one that real men and real teams are up for, and I’m looking forward to seeing this as an opportunity.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.