Canadian Championship: Vancouver Whitecaps stress importance of competition by fielding strong lineup

Vancouver Whitecaps were made to work hard by NASL side FC Edmonton in their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second leg on Wednesday.

A 97th minute stoppage time winner from Matias Laba gave Vancouver a 3-2 aggregate win, sending them through to a two-legged final against the Montreal Impact in August.

Laba was just one of a number of regular MLS starters who saw time on the pitch for the Whitecaps during the match, with coach Carl Robinson confirming his commitment to winning Vancouver's first ever Voyageurs Cup by playing a strong starting lineup that included defender Kendall Waston and 'Caps captain Pedro Morales.

"It's always nice when you get to a Cup final," Robinson told Vancouver's TSN 1410 radio after the match. "People asked me, and the club, how seriously were we taking this competition because I played the squad players, the guys that haven't played many minutes in MLS, in the first game.

"They questioned how seriously we took it but if you look at today's game and the personnel I put out and what it means to the group to score in the last minute, end of conversation."

Morales looked to have sent Vancouver on their way with a penalty in the 9th minute, but Edmonton weren't going to be overpowered by their MLS opponents and staged a dramatic second half comeback, levelling the tie with a 91st minute penalty of their own.

The NASL side looked in the ascendency at that stage, but Robinson praised his side's character and fighting spirit to come back in the closing minutes and seal the win with virtually the last kick of the game.

"This game is a tricky tie," Robinson admitted. "We've got everything to lose, they've got nothing to lose. It's their Cup final. They want a major scalp and for them, if they'd have beaten us today, it was a major scalp, which is why we took this competition very seriously.

"When they got back into the game in the 91st minute then they were the ones probably looking like they could maybe snatch a winner. Good teams are able to bounce back and we bounced back today."

Although delighted with the win, Robinson felt his team "huffed and puffed" in certain areas, highlighting their play in the final third and their inability to connect final passes as areas which are becoming a regular concern.

There will be little time for Vancouver to work on those issues and enjoy their victory though, as their busy May continues apace and they now face a tough trip to Colorado on Saturday in MLS action (9 pm ET, TSN2 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US).

Robinson admitted his squad are tired and a little beat up, but know they just need to get on with it.

"I'll assess it tomorrow," Robinson said. "Probably the squad that I've got here will be the squad that goes to Colorado because we've got one or two little niggles on certain players.  It is what it is. Colorado haven't played for two weeks, so they'll be fully rested. We've got to be organized, we've got to be disciplined and we'll be ok."