TORONTO, ON – Advantage Toronto FC – just barely.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC fell 1-0 to Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship Final on Tuesday night at BMO Field. Sebastian Giovinco’s fortuitous 43rd-minute goal puts Toronto in pole position to win this year’s Voyageurs Cup, but it’s far from over.
The decisive second leg goes next Wednesday at BC Place (tickets on sale NOW).
Whitecaps FC will need to overcome the one-goal deficit to repeat as champions. A win by at least two goals would do it, while a 1-0 win would send the series to extra time and penalties if needed.
It should make for an intriguing 90 minutes – or more – either way.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made 10 changes to his starting lineup after a weekend defeat to New England Revolution. Midfielder Russell Teibert, who became the new Canadian Championship all-time appearances leader with 16, was the only player who started both matches.
Teibert was one of five Canadians – and four Whitecaps FC Residency grads – in Vancouver’s starting lineup, as Robinson mixed in some youth and experience.
On the youth end of the spectrum, 15-year-old WFC2 midfielder Alphonso Davies got the nod once again after impressing in the semifinal vs. Ottawa. As expected, first-team regulars Kendall Waston, Pedro Morales, and Octavio Rivero also started after sitting out the New England match due to suspension.
There wasn’t as much of a mix in Toronto’s XI.
Giovinco, the reigning MLS MVP, headlined a Reds lineup that had just two changes from a weekend victory over LA Galaxy.
But it was the ‘Caps who looked the livelier side out of the gates.
Rivero had a couple early opportunities – a header saved by Clint Irwin and a left-footed strike off the side netting after a nice ball over the top from Pa-Modou Kah. A lively Sam Adekugbe also had a left-footed strike saved from 20 yards after a give and go with Davies down the left flank.
At the other end of the pitch, TFC struggled to get going in the first half.
They had a few spells of possession but the ‘Caps defended well and never looked in much danger of conceding – until the 43rd minute. That’s when Giovinco put TFC ahead with a 20-yard strike that took a big deflection off Waston before finding the back of the net.
Meanwhile, in the Canadian Championship... Giovinco opens the scoring with this deflected effort. 1-0 Toronto. pic.twitter.com/vTcAcJPEo8— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) June 22, 2016
At halftime, TFC head coach Greg Vanney bluntly told TSN that his side was lucky to be ahead and that they needed to be better. And they were early in the second half.
Giovinco nearly doubled Toronto’s lead in the 53rd minute, firing a rocket off the post. A little later on, he forced Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi into a diving save. Toronto FC would have a few more chances before the night was over, but Vancouver’s back line stood tall.
Their best chance to equalize came in the 70th minute, when Waston got on the end of a Rivero cross with an acrobatic volley only to see a diving Irwin tip it over the bar.
An away goal would have made Vancouver’s life easier, but it’s all still to play for.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Ben McKendry
Referee: Matthew Bourdeau
43’ – TFC – Sebastian Giovinco (Mo Babouli)
Possession: Toronto 57.4 % – Vancouver 42.6 %
Shots: Toronto 22 – Vancouver 10
Shots on Goal: Toronto 7 – Vancouver 5
Saves: Toronto 5 – Vancouver 6
Fouls: Toronto 6 – Vancouver 13
Offsides: Toronto 2 – Vancouver 1
Corners: Toronto 10 – Vancouver 6
64’ – VAN – Christian Bolaños
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
70.Paolo Tornaghi; 8.Fraser Aird, 4.Kendall Waston, 44.Pa-Modou Kah, 3.Sam Adekugbe; 30.Ben McKendry, 31.Russell Teibert; 7.Christian Bolaños, 77.Pedro Morales © (27.Blas Pérez 63’), 67.Alphonso Davies (23.Kekuta Manneh 67’); 29.Octavio Rivero (19.Erik Hurtado 78’)
Substitutes not used
1.David Ousted, 2.Jordan Harvey, 14.Cole Seiler, 17.Andrew Jacobson
1.Clint Irwin; 33.Steven Beitashour, 15.Eriq Zavaleta, 3.Drew Moor, 2.Justin Morrow; 18.Marco Delgado (9.Tsubasa Endoh 78’), 8.Benoit Cheyrou ©, 21.Jonathan Osorio, 7.Will Johnson; 10.Sebastian Giovinco, 11.Mo Babouli (22.Jordan Hamilton 87’)
Substitutes not used
25.Alex Bono, 6.Nick Hagglund, 14.Jay Chapman, 23.Josh Williams, 48.Raheem Edwards
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