VANCOUVER, B.C. – Before the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal final tie between the Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Edmonton, ‘Caps midfielder Russell Teibert said being a Canadian didn’t make the competition more important to him than to his teammates.
On Wednesday, however, as the Whitecaps earned a 2-0 win over the Eddies en route to a 5-2 aggregate victory which now sees the club take on the Montreal Impact in the tournament final, the 20-year-old stood out as a man possessed.
Constantly showing for the ball and harrying opponents in possession, the Niagara Falls native certainly looked more interested than some of his teammates in midfield, who put in a steady if unspectacular shifts against NASL opposition.
“Being a Canadian, I do really want to win this tournament,” Teibert said on Wednesday in a bit of a shift from his pregame comments after winning the sponsor’s man of the match award. “We want to be the best team in Canada.
“You have an extreme amount of pride playing for your national team, and winning a national championship would be huge and [it's] something I really want to do this year.”
Beyond his industrious performance in open play, Teibert continued his effective delivery from set pieces. In the 67th minute his whipped-in corner kick generated his side a two-goal lead as Shaun Saiko directed it into his own goal.
“I was trying to score, what are you talking about?” Teibert joked with a reporter who asked about the play. “No, I was really happy to see the ball go in the net, and I kind of thank God for that one.”
This result means the Whitecaps are through to their third straight Canadian Championship final after heartbreak against Toronto FC in back-to-back years. But this time it’s a showdown with the Montreal Impact, a long-standing rival from past years when both clubs played in lower divisions.
“It’s huge,” Teibert said of reaching the final. “We owe it to the city and we owe it to this club to win a title and we’ve come close in years in the past.
“So, I think this year we have a great shot to win it. But Montreal is a good squad, so it won’t be easy but we’re going to give it our all. It’s going to be a good championship.”