The Amway Canadian Championship’s semi-final legs wrapped up last night and saw defending champions Vancouver Whitecaps and the tournament’s most winningest team, Toronto FC, book their places in the final.
After shelling the Impact at home just one week ago thanks to some very impressive homegrown Canadian talent, TFC carried a 4-2 aggregate lead into the second leg in Montreal. The Impact struggled to find a spark in the first leg until late, when Didier Drogba woke up. His set up play for Michael Salazar and an incredible free-kick goal, just minutes later, cut the lead in half and gave the Impact hope.
Montreal were without stalwart midfielder Patrice Bernier, who picked up a red card in the first leg, and Ignacio Piatti, who was unavailable, and it proved to be just too much to overcome.
Toronto FC were able to see out the game to a fairly uneventful 0-0 draw, good enough to put them into the final. The calming and creative influence of Benoit Cheyrou combined with the hard (though possibly broken or not depending on whom you ask) nosed attitude of Will Johnson was exactly what a DP-less TFC needed to secure a final berth for the first time since 2014.
The situation in Vancouver was much different. After a young and inexperienced Whitecaps squad was thoroughly beaten in Ottawa by the Fury, coach Robinson decided to shake things up in his starting XI, and it paid dividends.
Down 2-0 on aggregate, the Whitecaps needed a big win, and they managed just that, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Historically slow starters in this tournament, the Caps have struggled in years past with FC Edmonton as well.
On this night, it was goals from Morales, Mezquida and a third from Octavio Rivero that sunk NASL’s Ottawa Fury, putting the Whitecaps into the aggregate lead and onto the final.
The Whitecaps and TFC haven’t faced off against each other in this tournament since 2012 when the Reds won their 4th consecutive championship and in turn handing Vancouver their 4th consecutive runner up medal. This year’s final will be a two legged matchup, kicking off in Toronto on June 21st before moving to Vancouver for the second leg on June 29th when a Canadian champion will be crowned. There’s much more than just bragging rights and a new piece of hardware for the trophy case; the winner will earn a spot in the 2017 CONCACAF Champion’s League group stage as Canada’s representative in the tournament.