VANCOUVER, B.C. – Toronto FC are through to the finals of the Canadian Championship thanks to gutting out a victory on penalties after playing the Vancouver Whitecaps level through 210 minutes of action over two legs.
The ‘Caps' young guns fought back bravely from a 2-1 first leg hole made deeper by conceding early off a set piece on Wednesday. The tie ended 3-3 on aggregate, but Toronto converted all of their spot kicks to go through 5-3 on penalties. Kekuta Manneh was the unfortunate Whitecap that saw his kick saved by Joe Bendik.
It had taken Doneil Henry only four minutes to cancel out Vancouver's away goal from the first leg but a goal just before half time from Erik Hurtado threw the tie wide open again, before an 86th minute penalty from Pedro Morales send the game into extra time.
Toronto will now face the Montreal Impact in the final as they look to claim their fifth Canadian Championship and a place in the CONCACAF Champions League. That two legged affair will kick off in two weeks’ time.
Henry gave TFC a 3-1 aggregate lead when he was on hand to bundle home after Nick Hagglund headed a Michael Bradley free kick off the bar.
The goal – which replays showed was offside – forced Vancouver to go on the attack, and they did so through the pace and endeavor of Hurtado. He got the ‘Cpas back into the tie two minutes before the half, running onto Morales' delicate chip over the Toronto defense and finishing with aplomb.
Vancouver pushed hard in the second half and had a number of close calls, but just as it was looking like the tie was getting away from them they were thrown a lifeline with five minutes remaining when Henry brought down Hurtado in the box. Morales stepped up to coolly slot home and send the tie into extra time.
With the deadlock holding, the affair headed to penalties where Toronto’s precision proved decisive.
With no MLS game this weekend, Vancouver now have ten days to prepare for their first Cascadia Cup clash of the season, at home to Seattle Sounders on May 24th. Toronto meanwhile head back east for an Eastern Conference meeting at home to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.