Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC | Canadian Championship Match Preview

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC vs. TORONTO FC
BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
May 14, 2014 (Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second leg)
10:30 pm ET (Sportsnet One in Canada, FREE STREAM on MLSsoccer.com in US, Mexico)

After a week on the road, Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to BC Place on Wednesday for the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal against Toronto FC.

The Amway Canadian Championship is a Canadian Soccer Association-sanctioned competition that crowns the top Canadian professional team and determines Canada’s entry into the CONCACAF Champions League.

Toronto FC earned a 2-1 win over a youthful Whitecaps FC side in the first leg of the semifinal last Wednesday; however, by claiming an away goal the ‘Caps are still in a decent position heading into the second leg.

The team with the greater aggregate of goals over the two legs will advance to the final and meet either Montreal Impact or FC Edmonton, who won 2-1 in the first leg of the semifinal in Alberta's capital.

If it so happens that Toronto and Vancouver have scored the same number of goals over the two legs, away goals count as the first tiebreaker. This means that Whitecaps FC would advance with a 1-0 or any two-goal victory.

The match would go to extra time if the ‘Caps hold a 2-1 lead after regulation, as the aggregate score would then be 3-3. It should be noted that the away goals rule remains in effect in extra time. If the two teams remain tied after extra time, a penalty shootout will determine the winner.

Wednesday’s match will be Toronto FC’s lone visit to BC Place this season.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson decided to play a youthful squad in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinal. His starting lineup, which had an average age of 22.11 years old, featured three teenagers and four players making their first-team debut.

The youngest of the bunch was 17-year-old goalkeeper Marco Carducci, who made two saves in his Whitecaps FC first-team debut. Carducci was joined by 20-year-old Bryce Alderson, who looked comfortable in a holding midfielder role, and 18-year-old Residency midfielders Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese.

Robison confirmed on Monday that Carducci would start again in the second leg, noting that he has “every confidence” in the young goalkeeper. The ‘Caps manager also confirmed that Russell Teibert will start and wear the captain’s armband again for the Blue and White on Wednesday.

Bustos and Froese won’t be available for Wednesday’s contest, however, as they have been called up to participate in this week’s camp with the Canadian U-20 men's national team – along with Mitch Piraux and Jackson Farmer, who are also on Vancouver’s Canadian Championship roster. 

It’s possible that Robinson could add some veterans to his lineup on Wednesday, as Whitecaps FC do not have an MLS match this weekend, but the ‘Caps manager has also said that he has full confidence in the entire squad.

“I think it will be a mix,” Robinson told reporters. “Obviously, we don’t have a big squad anyway so it’s probably going to be a young-ish team again but it’s going to be a team that I think can go out and win that game.”

TORONTO FC

The Reds took a different approach than Whitecaps FC in last week’s first leg, fielding an experienced group that featured all three of their Designated Players: US men's national team star Michael Bradley, longtime English Premier League striker Jermain Defoe, and 24-year-old Brazilian striker Gilberto.

And all three of them played a major part in the game. Gilberto set up Defoe’s first-half marker, while Bradley finished off a Defoe pass in the 89th minute.

Bradley, Defoe, and Gilberto each travelled to Vancouver, as did recently acquired English striker Luke Moore, and could feature again on Wednesday. The Reds, who are winless in their last three MLS outings, are coming off a bye week but they also have an important match against New York Red Bulls this weekend.

One player who could possibly return to the lineup for Toronto this week is Canadian international Jonathan Osorio, who missed the first leg with a quadriceps contusion. Last week, the 21-year-old midfielder told MLSsoccer.com: “We’re going to do our best to make sure Vancouver will have to keep dreaming of winning this championship.”

HEAD-TO-HEAD

With four titles to their name, Toronto FC are the most successful team in the Canadian Championship to date. The ‘Caps, meanwhile, are still searching for their first title after finishing as the runners-up in five straight years.

Prior to last year’s tournament, when Montreal Impact edged Whitecaps FC on aggregate in the championship final, Toronto won four straight titles – defeating the ‘Caps in the final on each occasion.

In MLS competition, however, Vancouver and Toronto have split their four meetings to date.