Perhaps Toronto’s performance in a 1-1 tie in the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final at Vancouver on Wednesday wasn’t as good as they'd hoped for, but the result is vital and they’ll take it.
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TFC might consider themselves fortunate that the Whitecaps had most of the clear scoring chances on the night – including two shots that ricocheted out off the woodwork – but missed on all except Eric Hassli’s 64th-minute strike.
The Reds fought their way back into the match little by little until Maicon Santos came up with the crucial equalizer in the 73rd minute, a result head coach Aron Winter believes his team deserved despite Vancouver’s dominance.
“We know that we didn’t play well, but sometimes you don’t play well and you get a good result,” Toronto head coach Aron Winter stressed. “This is not a stolen [result].”
The coach admitted that if his team is to lift the Voyageurs Cup and take the CONCACAF Champions League spot that comes with it, they will need to perform better next Wednesday, when the two sides meet at BMO Field to decide the winner of the aggregate-goals series.
While the Canadian Championship still remains in the balance, the first-leg result makes TFC the favorites to win their third straight Canadian Championship and the chance to play either Real Esteli or Walter Ferreti in the preliminary round of the Champions League.
But TFC midfielder Oscar Cordon says the Reds know enough not to book the flight to Central America just yet, as Vancouver will present a desperate and dangerous opponent next week.
“We liked the result today, but we know we have to play better – much better,” Cordon told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Vancouver.
The Home Grown standout came on as a first half sub for an injured Jacob Peterson. Despite being just 18 years old, Cardon impressed once again, playing a box-to-box role that betrayed his young age. The player credited his coaches for his strong play on the night and on the season.
“They have taught me so much about movement and playing a simple game – it’s been eye opening,” he said.
Equally eye-opening is a chance to win a trophy in front of the BMO Field faithful next week.
Being careful to show the proper respect to the Whitecaps, Cordon allowed himself to dream about what that could mean for Toronto.
“It would mean a lot,” he said. “For a lot of us it would be the first time winning silverware. It would be great to be a part of that.”