Thursday, May 5, 2011

Whitecaps Advance To Voyaguer's Cup Final

It took 120 minutes but the Whitecaps were able to dispatch the Montreal Impact and advance to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship Final with a 2-1 score over the two game aggregate.  Vancouver was able to earn the 1-1 draw at Empire with a late goal in the second half of extra time by defender Mouloud Akloul.  The Whitecaps put forward a strong line-up in order to gain a victory but will be pleased with a draw.

Both teams started the match slow with the very few chances going the Impact way off a couple of set pieces.  The Whitecaps started to apply pressure and gained a few free kicks of their own from the 20th minute and on but were unable to convert on any of them.  While the physical play was present from both sides, the Impact players received all cautions for some questionable tackles.  Late in the half Lowrey of the Impact stepped on the leg of Hassli with his cleats but didn’t receive a card.

The second half started with Camilo coming on for Hassli as a substitute as the Caps applied more pressure on the Impact trying to put away the match with a two goal lead.  Canadian winger Russell Teibert made a couple of great runs but struck the ball just wide from about 20 feet each time.  The Whitecaps made another important sub in the 69th minute when Shea Salinas came on for Salgado and made some solid runs down the right side.  The game’s most controversial decision came in the last 10 minutes when the referee called a foul on Rochat in the penalty box giving the Impact a penalty kick.  Canadian international striker Ali Gerba came up to the spot and converted the penalty to give the Impact a 1-0 lead in the match and a 1-1 score in the semi-final.  The Whitecaps attacked in order to score another goal to avoid extra time but were unsuccessful as both teams would be forced to play another 30.

To start the first half of extra time, the Caps used their last sub as Nizar Khalfan came on for Teibert to play alongside Camilo up front.  The Whitecaps continued to rack up chances but there was still no conversion as it seemed that penalty kicks were a real possibility.  Then on a free kick from outside the box, earned by Camilo, Rochat struck the ball on net which was initially saved by Gaudette but Akloul was there to put away the rebound and give them a 2-1 lead on aggregate in the 112th minute.  While it seemed like the result was sealed the Impact almost drew once more as a wide open Gerba headed a cross off the far post at the death.

After 210 minutes over two matches the Whitecaps were able to hang on for the aggregate victory over Montreal and move on to face Toronto FC in the finals of the Canadian Championship.  There was definite shaky play in the back four especially late in the match as the Caps allowed the Impact numerous chances to pull out the victory.  There was little doubt that the Whitecaps controlled the midfield as possession was in their favour over the match but there was a lack of touch in the final third as they were unable to make the final pass to help convert their opportunities.  The Whitecsps will now host Toronto FC on May 18th in Vancouver while the return leg will at BMO Field a week later on the 25th.  Of course they do have to deal with a trip to Chicago this weekend in MLS play as the Caps look for their first result on the road.

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