This is it.
Just one game now stands in the way of the Vancouver Whitecaps winning the Amway Canadian Championship and, perhaps more importantly, securing a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
A win against Toronto FC on Wednesday in the second leg of the final (8 pm ET, Sportsnet One in Canada) – or a draw with a scoreline higher than 1-1 – would see Vancouver lift their first-ever Voyageurs Cup. A 1-1 tie would see them go to extra time, while a loss or a scoreless draw would see yet another Canadian Championship tournament fall short.
“That’s the thing about cup finals,” captain Jay DeMerit told WhitecapsFC.com after a training session in Toronto. “You don’t get to have another shot at it until next year. So we all know the opportunity that’s in front of us, and I think it’s just about making sure the guys recognize that and make sure we do what we have to win the game.”
The Whitecaps aren’t put off by Danny Koevermans’ assertion that Toronto are “the worst team in the world,” with DeMerit noting there’s something about the Ontario-based team’s ability to raise its game in cup tournaments.
Toronto FC have won the Voyageurs Cup for three consecutive years, and also recently knocked the reigning MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy out of the CCL quarterfinals before succumbing to Santos Laguna 7-3 on aggregate in the semifinals.
The Reds have proved equally impressive in their Canadian Championship performances this season, defeating the rival Montreal Impact 2-0 at BMO Field on May 9 before taking a 1-1 draw out of BC Place last Wednesday in the first leg of the final.
“Their runs in the cups have been fantastic,” DeMerit said. “Again, it showed last week Wednesday when it comes to cup time they’ve performed very well. We’re under no illusions that we’re in for a tough game [today]. We have to make sure we build on our performance on Saturday [when the club tied Seattle Sounders 2-2] and make sure that happens again.”
For head coach Martin Rennie, it’s a chance to pick up his first piece of meaningful silverware and potentially experience continental cup competition for the first time.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Rennie told WhitecapsFC.com. “It’s only the second year of the Whitecaps in Major League Soccer, so it’s a big opportunity to actually win something and of course we’re focused on improving all the time and getting better. Winning trophies always helps you build that winning mentality, so it would be a great thing for us to achieve.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.