VANCOUVER, B.C. – The fate of the 2018 Voyageurs Cup hangs firmly in the balance after an eventful Canadian Championship first leg at B.C. Place on Wednesday evening in which Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC played out a 2-2 draw.
A 10-man Whitecaps side dug deep, taking the game to the visitors in the second half after Felipe received a straight red card in first-half stoppage time.
They must have thought that they’d be heading into next week’s second leg with the narrowest of advantages after Erik Hurtado’s 84th minute go-ahead goal, but a Doneil Henry own goal in the dying seconds of stoppage time firmly swung the tie in Toronto’s direction.
“The scoreline is in our favor with two road goals,” TFC coach Greg Vanney told reporters after the match. “That’s a decent road result. We go home now with a need to try and win the game or keep the game in a good position for ourselves. The vision of the game wasn’t necessarily what we anticipated but it’s the result that matters when you go home.”
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Vanney had spoken last week about using this first leg to set up the second, and he was pleased with how things played out. Their two away goals are huge. It was a good result, albeit if it wasn’t quite the game plan Vanney envisaged.
Vancouver will be left to rue their misfortune and missed opportunities after looking like the more dangerous side throughout, but as disappointed as they will be in giving up such a late equalizer, ‘Caps coach Carl Robinson was delighted with the character and fighting qualities shown by his side.
“Absolutely terrific,” was Robinson’s take on his team’s battling performance. “Especially in the second half where we showed unbelievable character, unbelievable discipline, and I’m disappointed we only scored one goal when our counterattacking was phenomenal, and then we get a kick in the teeth at the end with an own goal.”
Henry’s own goal could prove to be the crucial deciding factor in the tie, but for Robinson and his Whitecaps, the first-half dismissal of Felipe is what they see as the key decision in this first leg.
Robinson insisted the play, in which Felipe challenged Toronto midfielder Marky Delgado in the middle of the field was "not a red card," and saying the call changed the game in a negative way.
"I’m fuming, as you can probably tell,” he said after finishing his criticism.