VANCOUVER, B.C. — Eric Hassli’s 90th-minute howitzer ensured a 1-1 draw for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Toronto FC at BC Place on Wednesday, meaning the Amway Canadian Championship finals are all square at the halfway point of the series.
Toronto must have thought they had the first leg won, after a 66th-minute headed goal from Ryan Johnson — off Julian de Guzman’s pinpoint cross — looked to be enough to give the Reds a slender advantage to take back to BMO Field.
But the ‘Caps big French striker, Hassli, had other ideas. The substitute smashed home a powerful volley from an Alain Rochat cross in stoppage time which left Milos Kocic helpless as he watched the ball crush the back of the net.
Things started with a cagey first half in which the Whitecaps controlled 56.9 percent of the ball, and had the best of the early chances.
Camilo tormented his marker Jeremy Hall down the left side, beating him with ease on a number of occasions and drawing a yellow card from the Florida native in the 11th minute.
The Whitecaps' first half-chance came 20 minutes in, as Kocic made a meal of a Camilo free kick, but the Serbian goalkeeper’s unconvincing clearance was eventually cleared to safety.
Five minutes later, Toronto had their best chance of the half, as former ‘Cap Terry Dunfield got on the end of a Joao Plata free kick, but the Vancouver native’s close-range header flew over Joe Cannon’s goal.
Perhaps the home side’s best chance of the opening half came with moments to spare, as Sébastien Le Toux ran down the right side, firing a shot which Kocic did well to block. The Toronto defenders struggled to clear the rebound, but Dunfield was eventually able to play the ball out from the back.
In the 66th minute, TFC found their break when Johnson fired Toronto into the lead by heading home de Guzman's into the top right corner.
Ten minutes later, Vancouver came close, as a Camilo free kick generated from Davide Chiumiento went just wide to the left of Kocic’s goal after no player from either team made contact with the delivery.
In the 84th minute, Toronto nearly doubled their lead, as Johnson crossed to Nick Soolsma. But Cannon got down well to make a vital save on the Dutchman from close range when it looked a certain goal.
With the first leg complete, the teams will meet in the second leg at BMO Field next Wednesday, May 23. In the meantime, both teams are back in MLS action this Saturday, as the Whitecaps host Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders at BC Place and Toronto FC travel to RFK Stadium to face D.C. United.
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