VANCOUVER, B.C. – Toronto FC claimed their first Amway Canadian Championship in four years thanks to a stunning stoppage time winner from Will Johnson at BC Place on Wednesday evening against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Toronto had headed in to the second leg of the final as slight favorites after their 1-0 home victory in last week’s first leg, but they looked to have blown their chance of silverware after Vancouver produced a near-perfect game to hit two second-half goals, putting them on the verge of retaining the Voyageurs Cup.
But with the game about the enter the fifth minute of stoppage time, Vancouver's old foe from their Cascadian rivalry with Portland came back to haunt them with a goal that saw Toronto lose 2-1 on the night but take the tie on aggregate thanks to the away goals rule.
"When the ball was in the air I had a good feeling that it might bounce or something was going to happen," a jubilant Johnson told reporters after the match. "I just wanted a look. I put my foot through it and tried to connect well with it. Obviously it happened at a great moment for us and the club."
Tim Parker's 68th-minute strike looked to have secured another year's stay for the Voyageurs Cup in Vancouver, but it took that goal for Toronto to finally open up and start taking the game to the Whitecaps, in what became an end-to-end game.
But instead of being content with their lead, the Whitecaps kept pushing for the killer third, leaving space and opportunities for Toronto to pounce.
"I was a little surprised in a few of their transitions," Toronto coach Greg Vanney admitted. "I don't think they sent a lot of numbers forward necessarily on those attacks. I was surprised when we were able to slip out of the first challenge and then we were able to face forward and really get at their backline. So in some ways I still felt we had a chance because of that."
When Blas Perez hit the post in stoppage time for the 'Caps, it gave TFC some belief that they could still get the goal they needed as the seconds ticked by, and they tried to throw everything they had at Vancouver in the closing minutes. It paid off.
"It was desperation," Johnson admitted. "Every time you dodge a bullet down here you think maybe we'll get a chance. We did and fortunately it went in and worked out. I'm not sure you can put it into words and describe it unless you were here and felt it."