Late on Wednesday night, Toronto FC was crowned Canadian Champions for a 5th time despite dropping the second leg 2-1 in Vancouver. It was that single away goal scored by Canadian international and MLS veteran Will Johnson late into stoppage time that sealed the historic victory for TFC.
After dropping the first leg in Toronto, the Whitecaps stormed back on home soil and took a decisive 2-0 lead in the second half on goals by Nicolas Mezquida and Tim Parker. Had the score stood, Vancouver would have claimed their 2nd consecutive Voyageur’s Cup and a place in the CONCACAF Champions League for the 2017/2018 cycle.
But not so fast.
With seconds remaining, David Ousted, a solid rock on the goal line for the Whitecaps, uncharacteristically fumbled a catch mid-air after he and Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston collided and put it on a platter for Johnson who made no mistake from close range. His left footed volley, followed by a nasty collision with a recovering Ousted, gave TFC the all-important away goal they needed for the victory on aggregate.
This year’s iteration of the Amway Canadian Championship was different than previous years, and it’s for one simple reason. Success had nothing to do with Didier Drogba, or Ignacio Piatti; not Pedro Morales or Blas Perez; not Sebastian Giovinco or even Benoit Cheyrou’s calming influence. Success in this tournament, this year, boiled down to one thing: Canadian players getting the job done and winning a Canadian tournament.
Toronto FC featured a squad throughout the tournament with a heavy Canadian youth influence, and it paid dividends. From that semi-final 1st leg 4-2 drubbing of Montreal right through to the end, Canadian players scored goals and helped keep them out at the other end.
In total, TFC scored a combined 5 goals (and 1 own goal) which was enough to win the tournament. All 5 of those goals were scored by Canadian players; 4 of which were scored by players who came up through the TFC Academy. That is certainly a step in the right direction for Toronto, but also a bright spot for the tournament as a whole, in that the winning team was victorious due directly to the fact that Canadians were the key factor in their success.
Canadians are known for having a mild inferiority complex, whether they admit to it or not; always looking to our neighbours to the south or our colonial parents for validation (editor's note - the author is Canadian). But whether or not anyone outside of Canada followed the Amway Canadian Championship, fans of the game in Canada were treated to a fantastic championship that has set the bar high for future participants to live up to. With another drama filled tournament in the books and a champion crowned, we look forward to what future tournaments will have in store.