VANCOUVER, B.C – It all came down to one winner take all game at BC Place on Wednesday night. The Vancouver Whitecaps hosted the 2nd leg of the Amway Canadian Championship against the Montreal Impact. The home team had all the momentum after a 0-0 1st leg draw in Montreal two weeks prior but it wasn’t to be as the Whitecaps found another way to break the hearts of Caps fans everywhere. Montreal was victorious thanks to the “Away Goals” rule and a 2-2 draw before 18,183 disappointed fans at BC Place.
The Whitecaps had never been crowned champions or victorious in anything significant since entering MLS in 2011. The team has now finished runners-up the last 5 years for the coveted Voyageurs Cup, and they also have yet to win the Cascadia Cup which is between Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver MLS clubs. The Whitecaps have a long way to go before they are known as a franchise with a winning pedigree, for now they’ll have to settle for being bridesmaids once again.
All the Whitecaps players heard coming into this game was how big it was, and how important it would be for the franchise, and the fans if Vancouver won it. The Caps have always had a team that was good enough to compete for the Canadian Championship but never did they put together a roster that actually went out and delivered.
The 2013 version fielded the most competitive looking team possible in the 5-years that they have finished 2nd. Kenny Miller returned from his 2-month hamstring injury, Nigel Reo-Coker was fit to play, and the team had 11 days of between their previous game. Montreal flew into Vancouver from Quebec on Monday night after defeating the Philadelphia Union 5-3 on Saturday. You couldn’t ask for the odds to be stacked more so in favour of Vancouver coming out on top.
From the start of the match the Whitecaps showed who was hungry, and ready to play. The Whitecaps came out of the gate with all their energy, and focus centred on winning the Voyageurs Cup. Camilo Sanvezzo fired a bullet of a shot top left corner past Evan Bush on 4′ minutes. Bush was absolutely cleanly beat from 35 yards out, and Vancouver was off to a fantastic start that one could only dream of.
Vancouver kept pressing for another goal in the 1st half but it never came. The pressure, and opportunities were certainly available but the Whitecaps couldn’t pounce for that crucial 2nd early goal. Johnny Leveron hit the crossbar off a Whitecaps corner, and Gershon Koffie also had a brilliant chance to strike for a goal. Montreal settled into the game, and had corner after corner but were unable to score past Brad Knighton in the opening 45′.
The Whitecaps missed opportunities eventually came back to haunt them as Montreal made them pay. It doesn’t matter what the sport is…. if you don’t take your chances when you get them the other team will. Felipe Martins scored in the 49′, and the Whitecaps had to get going in search for that elusive 2-1 goal that would win them the cup.
Credit should go to Diego Kobayashi for taking Nigel Reo-Coker’s pass in the 69′ which he then was able to direct on goal, and eventually lead to the 2-1 Whitecaps goal, that looked to be the play that would finally win the Whitecaps the Voyageurs Cup.
Kobayashi has been hobbled all season, and is just coming back from an ankle injury earlier in May. He hasn’t had a bright tenure with Vancouver thus far, but he was in the right place at the right time.
Vancouver decided to sit back, and this was blatantly evident when Martin Rennie took off Kenny Miller for the defensive minded Jordan Harvey.
Instead of bringing on speedy play-makers Kekuta Manneh, or Darren Mattocks… Vancouver played to park the bus for the final 15 minutes of the match.
Just because the strategy worked in Montreal in the 1st leg, that shouldn’t be a determining factor when a 2-2 draw would give the cup to Montreal.
Montreal, who can scoring goals like nobody can, started to take the game to Vancouver, and you could almost see the writing on the wall as the Impact looked to win their first Voyageurs Cup since joining MLS. Hassoun Camara was left unmarked as Andy O’Brien could not get to him, and his header went in just inside the right post.
Y.P Lee was off the line not covering the back post because Montreal decided to send more players into the box. Instead of keeping Lee at the post, and sending in another player to help with coverage the Whitecaps once again failed at defending a set piece.
Vancouver still had chances to take a 3-2 lead, and finally get the monkey of their back when Jordan Harvey worked a give, and go with Darren Mattocks in extra time. Harvey had the ball sitting on a platter, and all he had to do was hit the net. Unfortunately he couldn’t even get his shot on target.
That pretty much sums up the overall play of both teams. You have Felipe, and Camara taking the game when they had their opportunities, and Vancouver simply pissed them away.
Montreal got it done in the crunch, and the Whitecaps collapsed, and blundered away the Voyageurs Cup.