It was supposed to be Sebastien Le Toux's night off.
Instead, with Vancouver Whitecaps FC under pressure from FC Edmonton in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, head coach Martin Rennie brought his star off the bench to stabilize the situation after the visitors came to within a goal of equalizing the two-leg tie through a 54th-minute goal from Yashir Pinto.
“They scored one goal and we had 20 minutes where we were a bit lucky, and a little bit scared maybe,” Davide Chiumiento told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “But the last 15 minutes, we scored three goals, and at the end, it’s important to go through.”
Le Toux made the intended impact, scoring two goals within 12 minutes before fellow substitute Darren Mattocks scored in stoppage time to push Vancouver across the finish line and into the final against Toronto FC with a 3-1 victory on the night and a 5-1 win on aggregate.
“These games can be changed by subs,” captain Jay DeMerit told reporters after the match. “Tonight that was the big change that we needed. These games can be funny at times, especially with an aggregate score. But I thought we showed good character to stay in it.
“I thought we showed good character to come back after they had scored the goal and really push on to the final whistle and to get a couple of goals by the subs. The way that they showed character to come on and change the game was the biggest plus."
Though Le Toux’s goals in the 75th and 87th minute earned him the Man of the Match award, Chiumiento, who played the full match and set up all three of his side’s goals, should have got the honour, according to the man who bagged the brace.
“I don’t think I’m the Man of the match,” Le Toux said. “I think it’s Davide Chiumiento – he got three assists. I was very happy about my goals. Lucky on the first one and lucky on the second one, because I never really score with my head, but Davide gave me a great ball and saw my run, so it was great.
“I maybe wasn’t supposed to play, but I was ready and the coaching staff needed me, so I’m lucky we won tonight.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.