Oral history: 'Caps players, coaches relive first-ever Voyageurs Cup

After years of heartbreak, Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first-ever Voyageurs Cup in 2015. Now, they're looking to make it back to back trophies on Wednesday night at BC Place in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship Final against Toronto FC (7 p.m. PT on TSN - tickets still available). Relive last year's memorable run ahead of Wednesday's match. 

PAOLO TORNAGHI: I remember we flew into Edmonton the night before. The weather was OK. But then in the morning we woke up, I looked out the window and saw that the streets were all white. The snow was pretty intense.

NICOLAS MEZQUIDA: I had seen snow before in Norway when I arrived in the airplane. But for Cristian Techera, it was his first time. We went to drink coffee and take a few pictures. The whole city was all white. I was like, “OK, we have to play like that.”

 

Ready for the Canadians Cup!!! Llegamos a Edmonton para jugar la copa de canada y nos encontramos el dia asi

A photo posted by Nicolas Mezquida Sero (@nicolas_mezquida) on

KEKUTA MANNEH: It was crazy. I never expected to see snow in May. I took a picture and posted it on Instagram. It was pretty cool, but I was hoping we could play.

NICOLAS MEZQUIDA: But then the coach told us it was cancelled. I told him, "Let’s just play."

PAOLO TORNAGHI: It was disappointing. I was waiting for the game for myself because it was going to be my first game with the club but also for those who travelled there to watch us.

The match was postponed and Whitecaps FC instead hosted the first leg a week later.

PAOLO TORNAGHI: It was great to come here and play in BC Place. I had already played here when I was with Chicago Fire but this was my first game there with the Whitecaps colours. It was much better.

NICOLAS MEZQUIDA: We had a lot of time to prepare for the game. Then when Edmonton scored in the first 10 minutes, we were like, “OK this game is going to be difficult.” For them, it’s the game of the year. It’s the game they can showcase themselves and make history in the Cup. We ended up tying the game 1-1 when Koffie scored at the end, but it was so difficult.

PAOLO TORNAGHI: It was a good feeling. Starting with a loss at home would have been bad.

A week later, the ‘Caps returned to Edmonton for the second leg. There was no snow.

NICOLAS MEZQUIDA: Over there, we scored first early in the game. I remember I passed it to [Cristian Techera] and the keeper took a penalty. Then Pedro scored, but we knew one goal wasn’t going to be enough. So we kept going but we missed a few chances. The field was so tight and there was a lot of wind. It was so difficult. So hard. So physical.

PAOLO TORNAGHI: In added time, I remember they played a long ball from the defence. I caught the ball and then I heard the whistle. I thought, “What’s going on?” Then I heard the ref say penalty. I didn’t think it was a clear penalty, but then the guy scored and I was like, “Oh man.”

NICOLAS MEZQUIDA: It was so crazy. But then [Matias Laba] put the team on his shoulders and scored a few minutes later. I celebrated this goal like it was the final. It was a big surprise he scored, but he’s a good player when the game is difficult.

MATIAS LABA: I was thinking, I wanted to support the guys but I wasn’t thinking I would have the opportunity to play. I’m a defensive midfielder so we don’t always get subbed into the game. But when I got on, I just wanted to help my teammates. Luckily, I got a big goal to help us qualify to the final. I remember it was a second ball in the box. I was in good position I guess. I just shot it. I was very happy to score for Vancouver. It was my first goal with the club. It was not the nicest goal, but it was very important.  

PAOLO TORNAGHI: The play was a big scramble, I think it went through the legs of the goalkeeper, but I was really happy with Mati because he earned another game for us and another game for me to play.

Montreal Impact hosted the first leg of the final. After a scoreless first half, the ‘Caps took a 2-0 lead in the second half thanks to goals from Darren Mattocks and Pedro Morales.

PAOLO TORNAGHI: Pedro’s free kick was amazing. I didn’t expect he would try to shoot from there. It was a beautiful goal that everyone remembers. But Montreal made a few subs late in the game and then they scored from a corner kick and straight away again. There was a lot of pressure. The crowd was very loud at the moment. We were trying to just hold on for the last moments. We tried to slow down the game. I remember someone on the Montreal bench who I know was yelling at the ref for me to speed up the play. I got a yellow card too for wasting time but it was so important to get a nice result there, 2-2, which would make it easier for us at BC Place.

JORDAN HARVEY: Playing so well at Montreal, we knew we had it in our hands. It was in control. At home, we were very confident and it showed on the field.

CARL ROBINSON: Going into a Cup Final second leg, I said to the guys, “It’s one game. We’re one game away from making history for the club because we’ve never won this tournament before.” I didn’t know whether to put a bit of pressure on them or to take the pressure off them, but I challenged them. I said, “Listen, they don’t come around too often. Games like this. At home, in front of our 20,000 fans. It’s in our court. It’s time to step up boys.” And they certainly did that.

DAVID OUSTED: I think we dominated in the beginning and then the whole thing obviously shifted a little bit with them getting a red card. They backed off and were hoping to maybe get a counter and nick one off of us. But luckily, we got in front.

JORDAN HARVEY: We were all over them and I think everybody tasted it at halftime. And then going into that second half, it was kind of cruise control.

After a late first-half goal from striker Octavio Rivero, Tim Parker made it 2-0 for Whitecaps FC in the 53rd minute to seal the victory.

TIM PARKER: It’s funny, because me and Jordan Harvey usually switch runs [on corners] every once in a while. So as Pedro was going to take the corner, Jordan’s like, “Why don’t we switch runs?” He was like, “I’ll go near and you take mine.” So we switched runs, the ball fell right into my area, I went up and headed it home and went and celebrated with Pedro. It was one of those moments where I didn’t know what to do with my celebration. So as me, Jordan, and Beita were jogging back to the half field line, Jordan said, “I told you to take my spot so that’s my goal!”

CARL ROBINSON: I like to get things perfect. I didn’t want to give a goal away. Even in the 87th minute, Perty and Gordon said to me, “Are you still not confident, Robbo?” I said, “I am, but I’m nervous.” I’ve been in this situation before, conceding in the last few minutes. I didn’t want anything to spoil this special day of the club. And it didn’t.

DAVID OUSTED: It was a big milestone for the organization, for the club, and for the fans. And we wanted to celebrate that in front of the fans, with our fans. And lift that trophy.

MATIAS LABA: I will never forget this moment. I was very happy, the whole team was very happy, the celebration was crazy. Because here is Pa, here is Cristian Techera. They are funny.

TIM PARKER: I really didn’t know what I was walking into when I walked into the locker room. Then I saw plastic all up on the lockers, and I kind of got a hint of it, but then I really didn’t know what was happening until everyone was getting soaked and what not. For the club to win its first trophy in that fashion at home, it meant a lot to the club and fans and we felt that. Celebrating with everyone made it that much sweeter.

RUSSELL TEIBERT: You can’t describe the feeling from top to bottom. From the front office down to the equipment managers, to guys on the team who have gone through the heartbreak. It was a special moment, one of the top moments I’ve had since I’ve been here with the club since I was 15 years old. Winning that trophy and finally getting that monkey off our back was a huge relief. The emotion of winning that trophy and being Canadian champions meant a lot to the guys and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me. That game in Edmonton when Laba scores in stoppage time, it just seemed we weren’t going to lose that year. And I hope we can have that same feeling this year to hold the trophy again and keep it in Vancouver.

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