Soccer

Whitecaps tie the game but lose the championship

The Vancouver Whitecaps have joined the ranks of BC teams that come very close to earning championships, but only very close. On May 29, the ‘Caps hosted the Montréal Impact for the final match of the Amway Canadian Championship. The winner with the highest aggregate goals would win the Voyageurs Cup and be granted a place in the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League, something the Whitecaps have been chasing for over a decade.

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By Jessica Wind (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: June 5, 2013

The Vancouver Whitecaps have joined the ranks of BC teams that come very close to earning championships, but only very close. On May 29, the ‘Caps hosted the Montréal Impact for the final match of the Amway Canadian Championship. The winner with the highest aggregate goals would win the Voyageurs Cup and be granted a place in the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League, something the Whitecaps have been chasing for over a decade.

Goals scored on away turf are worth more than goals scored at home and the previous match between these two clubs ended in a scoreless draw, so Montréal was going into Wednesday’s game knowing they only needed to score once.

The home team wasted no time deciding the pace of the game. A free kick from Camilo Sanvezzo from well outside the 18-yard box sailed past Montréal Impact’s keeper, Evan Bush a mere four minutes into play.

However, the Impact had the extra help of the crossbar preventing any more ‘Caps goals in the half. The Whitecaps managed to create many chances and dominated play, holding onto their one-goal lead until the 49th minute.

The Impact pushed into the zone relatively unchallenged before attempting a cross that was easily blocked. The ball bounced to an open Felipe Martins just outside the 18-yard box who wasted no time sending it by Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Kinghton. The score was tied at 1-1, forcing the Whitecaps into a “win the game, or lose the championship” situation – a tie would result in the trophy going to Montréal.

Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie’s day ended at the 57th minute when a relatively unaggressive challenge for the ball resulted in his injury. Daigo Kobayashi took his place and made it count a little over 10 minutes later.

A well placed cross from Nigel Reo-Coker had Kobayashi battling for a header at the top of the six-yard box. He came out ahead and after a great second effort on his part was rewarded with the ball in the back of the net making the score 2-1. The ‘Caps were back on top and BC Place was ecstatic. If only they could hold onto their one goal lead.

Whitecaps’ defenceman Andy O’Brien dashed in for a sliding block to prevent a scoring opportunity from Impact’s big goal scorer Marco Di Vaio late in the second half resulting in a corner kick. The ball easily found Hassoun Camara’s head and the back of the net at the 84th minute. A goal resulting from a set play and unmarked men has become all too familiar for Whitecaps FC.

With the game tied at 2-2, the Whitecaps needed to pull out a last minute goal in order to hoist the Voyageurs Cup. They almost looked like they were going to do it too after a cross from Russell Tiebert found Jordan Harvey’s head. The defenceman, who had taken striker Kenny Miller’s position on the field, sent the ball sailing over the cross bar after an ill-timed jump.

Soon after, Harvey was granted another chance after a gift pass from striker Darren Mattocks who entered the match for Camilo at the 82nd minute. Harvey fired the shot from his right foot wide of the net resulting in another lost opportunity for the Whitecaps to regain their lead.

As the referee blew the whistle after injury time and Montréal began to celebrate, the stands at BC Place emptied solumnly. The team celebrated on away turf as the Voyagers trophy was presented.

In a post-game interview Knighton described the loss as stinging, and hopes that the club has short-term memory going into their league play.

“The games are coming thick and fast and now we need to focus and shift our focus to the league and start winning league games and moving up the table.”

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