The Vancouver Whitecaps face an uphill struggle if they want to retain their Amway Canadian Championship crown, after crashing to a shock 2-0 defeat at NASL side Ottawa Fury in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday evening.
Two first-half goals from former Whitecaps players – Jonny Steele and Paulo Junior – did the damage, but a young and inexperienced Vancouver side looked out of sorts for much of the match and inept in the final third of the pitch.
"We didn't compete with them," said Whitecaps assistant coach Martyn Pert, to TSN 1410 Radio after the match. "All the things that you're thinking about that they will do; they will battle, they'll fight for every second ball and be competitive. They did that and they got the advantage on that.
"In terms of their actual domination in the first half, we didn't actually create anything or put any real pressure on them; and they were able to build confidence."
Vancouver made nine changes from the team that drew with Houston at the weekend, fielding five homegrown players.
The hope that the fringe players would rise to the occasion failed to materialise and with a two goal deficit to overturn, the likelihood is that the Whitecaps will field a much more MLS-heavy side for the second leg.
"I think there will be changes in the roster and it makes for a very exciting game next week," Pert said. "It's all to play for. They've got something to really hang on to. They'll be coming to fight and scrap and compete and I'm sure they'll be looking forward to the game. It makes for a really exciting game. I'm looking forward to it next week."
The match was the Fury's first meeting with the Whitecaps, having never reached the semifinal stage of the competition in their previous two attempts. The victory made an already historic match even more so, and now they're looking to go and made more history in Vancouver next Wednesday (10:30pm ET; MLS LIVE, TSN).
Ottawa head coach Paul Dalglish is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. He's trying not to read too much into the first leg result, but was aware of what impact such a result could have on the club and the local community.
"It means we're 2-0 up in the first leg, and there's another leg to go," Dalglish said. "It doesn't mean much more than that. That's only one game. Yeah it's a fantastic occasion, but for me, the most important thing for the Fury, as a new franchise, is that we had around 9,000 people there tonight who have all seen their local team go and beat a MLS team.
"We've got to grow this game in this country, and games like that mean that people are going to come back. And that's the most important thing for the Fury."