With only 30 minutes separating them from their first Voyageurs Cup title, the Vancouver Whitecaps were dealt a dramatic twist in their quest for Canadian glory as the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship against Toronto FC at BMO Field was abandoned on Wednesday night because of unplayable field conditions.
Now the ‘Caps will have to start from scratch, replaying the second leg on July 2, starting at 0-0 and again in need of a goal to overturn Toronto’s away-goals advantage from the 1-1 draw in the first leg at Empire Field.
“We’re disappointed, of course,” said head coach Teitur Thordarson after the match. “The advantage that we had gotten this game doesn’t count, so that is obviously unfair. As far as the conditions, that is the referee’s decision and we have to respect that.”
Whitecaps FC chief executive officer Paul Barber was in attendance at BMO Field and was ready to see his team bring home some silverware, only to be denied by the odd occurrence.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this in the 16 years that I’ve been involved in professional soccer,” he said. “It’s an unprecedented situation tonight.
“We’re not happy about it. We were 1-0 up away from home after 59 minutes and were in a very commanding position in a cup final, but rules are rules,” Barber added. “From our point of view, we were playing well and we wanted to finish this match; from Toronto’s point of view, obviously it’s a different perspective. At the end of the day it’s irrelevant.”
This isn’t the first time that the ‘Caps have been on the cusp of Canadian glory only to have the title swiped away at the last second.
In 2009, Vancouver needed for only the Montreal Impact to stay within three goals of TFC in the final match in the former round-robin group stage format of the competition. But with a lackluster effort from Montreal, Toronto amazingly won the Voyageurs Cup with a 6-1 win.
“There are definitely [interesting] things happening in this tournament,” said Thordarson. “I felt that we were well on our way [this time], but these are things we can’t do much about and that’s how it is.”
The replay was tentatively rescheduled for Thursday morning at 11 am ET at BMO Field. But with rain falling throughout the night, the match was moved to July 2.
When the game does get replayed, Thordarson is confident that his team will rally again and find the goal they need to become Canadian champions.
“I absolutely think we can regroup,” said the head coach.