NCC final second leg abandoned due to lightning
TORONTO — The Vancouver Whitecaps, leading Toronto FC 1-0 in the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship on Wednesday night, looked headed towards lifting the Voyageurs Cup with a 2-1 aggregate score.
Instead, the Whitecaps one-goal advantage was erased after the match was abandoned due to lightning and a waterlogged pitch at BMO Field.
By NCC rules, the entire match must be replayed in its entirety. It has been rescheduled for Thursday at 11 am ET pending pitch conditions at BMO Field. This will be confirmed at 9:30 am on Thursday morning. (Note: NCC rules differ from MLS' regarding the cancellation of games after they have kicked off. The MLS rules read: "If a Game is cancelled prior to the completion of the first half of play, regardless of the score, the score and all statistics will not be recorded and the Game will be treated as if it were cancelled before it started. If a Game is cancelled subsequent to the completion of the first half of play and a Team leads in goals or the score is tied at halftime, the score and all Game statistics will stand as final.")
Vancouver were leading 1-0 through an Eric Hassli goal in the 17th minute, giving the Whitecaps a 2-1 aggregate lead over Toronto FC before the game was delayed twice, once at halftime and again in the 61th minute.
The French striker — who also scored in the first leg of the series at Vancouver — tallied against the run of play, unleashing a left-footed shot that appeared to deflect off TFC midfielder Julian de Guzman and around goalkeeper to find the net. It was Hassli's fourth goal against the Reds this season and second in the NCC.
Moments after Hassli scored, the skies opened up. Lightning strikes near the end of the first half caused the game to be delayed 30 minutes at the halftime.
Although the match resumed, the middle of the pitch was nearly unplayable and, with the rain still coming down, players were against pulled off the pitch shortly after the hour mark.
After more than an hour of delay, the match was finally called off. It will be replayed Thursday morning in its entirety, weather permitting. Fans that attended the game Wednesday night will be welcomed back into the stadium.
TFC head coach Aron Winter said that he understands how frustrating it must be for Vancouver.
"It's not fair, really," he said. "But in this case, we are just playing by the rules."