It wasn’t pretty for the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday, as they scurried out of Commonwealth Stadium with a 3-2 win after a scrappy first leg in their Canadian Championship semifinal against NASL side FC Edmonton.
But given the way things have gone lately, with the club winless in its last five Major League Soccer matches, the ‘Caps were happy to escape with a win by hook or by crook.
“In my experience of playing against so-called lower opposition, they always make it difficult,” defender Andy O’Brien told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the match. “They get men behind the ball and chase everything, and that’s exactly what they did.
“When we got the first goal, it came very early, and you’re hoping it’s going to be three, four, five. But credit to them, they made it difficult for us, and we’re glad to be coming away with a win.”
The Eddies made it very difficult indeed for the MLS side on this evening, replying almost instantly to Camilo’s fifth minute opener before taking a shock 2-1 lead.
And Edmonton might have scored a third had it not been for a brave stop from Brad Knighton, who ended up blocking a powerful effort from Irishman Daryl Fordyce in the 30th minute, two minutes after Chris Nurse’s 2-1 effort.
That save kept the Whitecaps in the match and gave them belief there were still points to play for.
“To be honest they had a great chance around the half hour mark,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “When we didn’t lose a goal there – Brad made a fantastic save – that was a key moment in the game, and then I was quite pleased with how we reacted after that.”
That positive reaction didn’t immediately provide dividends though – it took until the 83rd minute for the Whitecaps to equalize after Camilo went down on what appeared to be minimal contact in the area.
Rennie insisted following the match that while he felt Camilo was impeded, and that in any event referee Silviu Petrescu missed a penalty just minutes before when it looked as if Jordan Harvey was clipped in the box.
“I do think it should have been a penalty on Jordan Harvey and I think the referee probably realized that,” Rennie responded when asked if Camilo earned his penalty as a result of a “make-up call.” “But there was contact on Camilo as well.”
O’Brien credited game winning goalscorer Tom Heinemann for making the most of his substitute appearance.
“I think Tommy Heinemann made a big difference when he came on,” O’Brien said of his teammate. “I thought having a target up there, although it wasn’t the prettiest, made the difference for us.”