TORONTO, ONT – The stage was set for Wednesday’s Canadian Championship final second and deciding leg a week ago at BC Place. A pulsating 2-2 draw had it all – penalty kicks, red cards, hard tackles, and late drama.
But the ‘Caps are in Toronto for one reason only: to spoil the party and win the cup.
And Whitecaps FC have been pretty good at spoiling the party of late. On Saturday, they ended Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers’ 15-match unbeaten streak with a 2-1 victory at Providence Park. The previous weekend, an 87th-minute equalizer at New York City FC saw the ‘Caps snatch a 2-2 draw, becoming only the second team to leave Yankee Stadium with points this season.
Unsurprisingly, the team’s confidence is high.
Kei Kamara has goals in four consecutive matches, Russell Teibert, Aly Ghazal, and Felipe have each put in stellar performances in midfield while Stefan Marinovic’s seven saves in Portland earned him a spot in the MLS Team of the Week.
“The feeling’s good, everyone wants to play in a championship game,” Kamara said. “For us to be here at this point with the games we’ve played, it’s perfect. No matter what happened in the last game, we knew it would be a different game when we come to Toronto and we’re here now and we’re ready.”
Vancouver, who are now unbeaten in five games, will need another massive result at BMO Field to lift the Voyageurs Cup for the first time since 2015. Only a win or a three or more goal apiece draw will ensure they are crowned champions.
“We’re in a good place, the boys are happy, the squad has been used which has been important,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “It will come down to a little a bit of magic or a mistake or two, so we’ve got to make sure we do what we’ve been doing for the last few weeks.”
The ‘Caps should not need motivating. Six members of the current squad were in the team when Toronto broke Vancouver hearts with a late away goal in the Canadian Championship final in 2016, while TFC also got the better of the ‘Caps in the 2011 and 2012 finals. Considering the history, a victory this time around would taste even sweeter.
“I know what it felt like to win this trophy for the first time, you want to replicate that feeling and I think it will be even more special winning it away from home and being able to celebrate it here for me, because my family is from Niagara Falls and they’ll all be at the game,” said Teibert, the all-time leader in Canadian Championship appearances.
Toronto is a place that is familiar to a number of ‘Caps.
Doneil Henry began playing soccer in Brampton, Ont. and spent four years at TFC, making 70 MLS appearances for the club. This will be his first visit back to his old club since leaving Toronto in 2014. Fellow centre back Aaron Maund also had a brief stint in Toronto, playing 15 times in MLS play, after being drafted 12th overall by TFC in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
Meanwhile, Robinson was named MVP in two of his three years with Toronto FC between 2007 and 2009, and Whitecaps FC goalkeeper coach Stewart Kerr also spent three years as the goalkeeper coach at Toronto FC.
Kickoff on Wednesday is set for 4:30 p.m. PT – live on TSN 1/4 and TSN 1040 radio.