Vancouver's Robinson on ACC stunner: "I'm absolutely gutted for the guys''

David Ousted - VAN - reaching out to teammate after allowing goal in ACC 2016 v. TOR - 6-29-16

VANCOUVER, B.C. – BC Place was bouncing. The fans were loud and on their feet, and the Vancouver Whitecaps were seconds away from winning back-to-back Voyageurs Cups. Then Will Johnson hit Toronto FC's series winner four minutes into stoppage time and in a split second, apart from the celebrations on the TFC bench, you could have heard a pin drop.

Vancouver had won 2-1 on the night, but Johnson's goal, with virtually the last kick of the game, saw Toronto win the Amway Canadian Championship Wednesday, on the away goals rule.

It was a heartbreaking way for the Whitecaps to end their reign as national champs, and as the final whistle blew, and the shock and disbelief sank in both on and off the pitch, Vancouver as a whole was left stunned.

"I'm absolutely gutted for the guys because they gave me, and the club, and the organization, everything," Robinson told reporters after the match. "We deserved to win. But we didn't win. So I can talk to you about how well they played and how proud I am of them, but football's a cruel game and it was certainly cruel tonight for the guys."

Vancouver had headed in to the game in confident mood, feeling that Toronto’s 1-0 lead from the first leg was far from being an insurmountable task to overturn, but hanging over the 'Caps was the specter of their failure to get a vital away goal at BMO field.

It was a factor which dictated their game plan to an extent and which ultimately was to prove the deciding aspect of the cup tie. Vancouver knew they couldn't go gung ho at the start to get the goal they needed, for fear of giving TFC, and Sebastian Giovinco in particular, any sniff of a chance. The result was a cagey first half.

"We knew that there was 90 minutes to play and we wanted to still be in the game after 45," Robinson mused. "They've got one of the best players, if not the best player in the league, so we needed to make sure we kept him quiet and we did for the majority of the game.

"We didn't play very well in the first half. In the second half, we were excellent. We scored our two goals, we created a number of chances, we missed a number of chances and we conceded a bad goal in the 94th minute.

With four Canadian Championship matches this month, the competition has taken up most of Vancouver's focus.

As gut-wrenching as this loss has been, with six MLS matches coming up in a grueling July, Robinson knows his side need to pick themselves up and use their disappointment as a pivot for a strong end to the regular season.

"If you're not disappointed when you lose, there's a problem, and if you're not disappointed when you lose like this there's a problem," Robinson said. "It's going to be tough, but you just have to get on with it. You can't sulk and worry and you have to deal with it.

"It makes you stronger. It makes boys into men. It brings the character out in people. It's a heartbreaking loss for me because I'm disappointed for them, but being in the game long enough, I know what it's like."