It's not the most conventional way to win a trophy, but the Vancouver Whitecaps don't care.
With the Portland Timbers taking down the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Sunday, the 'Caps ended up with the best head-to-head MLS record among the three Pacific Northwest-based clubs this season, and officially claimed the Cascadia Cup for the first time in five years.
What makes it a bit odd is that the 'Caps weren't there to claim the supporters-created cup, so any real celebration will likely have to wait until Vancouver's final match of the season, which is their only remaining fixture at BC Place in their regular-season schedule.
“It's a little bit strange when you win a trophy and no one's there,” center back Jay DeMerit said with a bit of a laugh after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Monday. “But I think hopefully when we get back with our home fans we can all have a little something together.
“I think it's important – no matter what – that you recognize these types of things, because it's a season of work that allows you to lift that trophy," DeMerit added. "I think we're all looking forward to lifting it together, because that's what it's all about.”
For DeMerit, the Cascadia Cup will perhaps be of greater significance to him given this is his third season with the team, and the only year in which Vancouver has walked away with a winning record against Cascadia opposition, finishing 2-1-3 vs. the Timbers and Sounders. In fact, it took 13 matches for the Whitecaps to claim a win over either the Portland Timbers or the Seattle Sounders, until beating the latter in July.
“It's definitely not as fun as winning it in person,” DeMerit said with a laugh. “But winning a trophy nonetheless is great. It's great for this club, it's great for the fans of this club who, ever since I've been here, have been waiting for this.”
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While Vancouver didn't participate in the final match of this season's competition, the side's stylish 4-1 demolition of the Sounders midweek certainly adds to that feeling of satisfaction, according to the captain.
“I think we've won it in the fashion you should, by winning games and deserving it,” DeMerit said. “Credit to the guys all season, we've played very well against our Cascadia opponents this year. I would definitely say we couldn't say that the previous years. So, that's a major step in the right direction and you have silverware.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.