Saturday, July 2, 2011

Promises Of Championship Broken By Whitecaps Collapse

In a season that started with so much promise for the Whitecaps, the season has reached a new low as the Caps dropped the second leg of the NCC 2-1 to TFC which gave the Toronto side its third straight Voyageur’s Cup.  After losing in disappointing fashion every year in the competition, especially 2009, the front office had made it a major priority to win the title this year and represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions league.  Unfortunately for Vancouver lost 3-2 on aggregate despite taking a one goal lead into halftime as they gave up two goals in the second half.

The Whitecaps started the game strong as they tried to apply pressure on the makeshift backline of TFC as they controlled the majority of possession.  It looked as though TFC’s chances at winning the Cup took a hit when their captain pulled up lame with a hamstring early in the first half.  Soon after the substitution the Caps seemed to seize control as a perfect curling free kick from Camilo beat Frei from outside the box. 
 This is where the Caps seemed to lose momentum as they allowed Toronto to take over control of the game.  TFC seemed to capitalize on a Joe Cannon mistake as Martina fired on an unguarded net but a hustling Jay DeMerit seemed to clear the ball off the line.  Although replays seemed to indicate the ball had gone over the line the goal did not count and the Whitecaps escaped the first half with a one goal lead (2-1 on aggregate).

Halftime seemed to make no difference for the Caps as TFC continued their pressure to find the equalizer.  The opportunity came when Joao Plata, despite handling the ball, was fouled in the box and a penalty kick was called.  Plata’s PK was stopped by Cannon but the goalkeeper was called for encroachment and the penalty was retaken and was converted the second time tying the aggregate score at two.

It did not take long for TFC to take the lead as they performed a quick counter attack which after only a few touches was converted by Yourassowsky to give the home side a 3-2 aggregate lead.  It was at this point the Whitecaps pushed forward more in order to get the second away goal which would have given them the championship.  Their best chance came late in the game when Eric Hassli found himself alone in the box with time but volleyed the ball wide of the net.

The Whitecaps and their supporters feel snake bitten when it comes to the Nutrilite Canadian Championship for the last three years.  Last year they could not secure a single win in four games as they drew each game and everyone knows what happened in 2009.  This year they were less than 30 minutes away, with a 1-0 lead, from winning the title but a freak rainstorm with lightning caused the game to be abandoned.

Despite resting seven players and by clearly putting all their eggs in one basket for this championship this match will be considered a major disappointment for everyone involved in the organization.  There were no statements to supporters about preaching patience in the inaugural MLS season but statements that the front office felt that they could make the playoffs, win the Voyageur’s Cup and go to Champions League.  So with the Canadian Championship lost and the club alone in last place in the MLS at the half point of the season, there are serious questions that need answering especially with all the promises made.

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