|Toronto FC's Mikael Yourassowsky plays in the rain against the Vancouver Whitecaps during their game on Wednesday night. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - Vancouver manager Teitur Thordarson was visibly upset when last night’s Cup match ended with his side leading — and he should be.
It was two years ago that TFC stole the trophy on the final day of the tournament after managing to score six goals at Montreal and steal the competition from the Whitecaps on goal difference.
But the Reds caught yet another break when last night’s rain-soaked Canadian Cup final was abandoned midway through the second-half due to lightning and is set to be replayed in its entirety.
“Each team signed the regulations,” said CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli, referencing concerns about the match having to be replayed. “It’s very clear to participate both teams have to sign the regulations.”
Leading the two-legged series 2-1 on aggregate, the Whitecaps looked set to win their first Voyageurs Cup until referee David Gantar’s whistle forced both teams back into the tunnel 60 minutes in at BMO Field.
“The referee decided the pitch was not playable and the regulations are clear that the match will be replayed,” Montopoli said.
Fans filed out the exits just 10 minutes into the match when torrential rain poured over the stadium for the duration. Tournament officials delayed the game an additional 30 minutes at half-time before eventually calling the match just after the break.
The game is rescheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday morning at BMO Field and teams must dress the same 18 players. Anyone with a ticket from last night’s game will be admitted.
“The teams agreed that within the next 12 hours we will replay the match,” the CSA official stated.
More of the same
As he has done four times in three games against Toronto, Eric Hassli’s first-half goal was the exact thing Toronto’s central defenders had to prevent. The big Frenchman had far too much time to face goal and line up a drive that fooled Stefan Frei.
It was much of what we saw in the final’s opening leg – Vancouver’s designated player grabbing hold of the match by dropping deep to confidently involve teammates and have his way with Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams.
For the fourth consecutive time, Cann and Williams will be called upon to stop a man that finds net every time out against Toronto – We're just not sure they can.
Around the pitch
Was anyone else surprised to see Gantar, the referee who comically sent off Tony Tchani against Columbus, back in charge at BMO? An argument can be made that he missed another call in failing to award Toronto a penalty after Terry Dunfield’s clumsy first-half challenge on Mikael Yourassowsky … How about Dunfield’s extremely late challenge in first-half stoppage time? Already on a caution, Gantar should have given the Canadian international a second yellow which might have turned the match … What did change the match was the 30-minute rain delay that mucked things up so much that passes were stopping dead in pools that had formed all over the pitch … Although visibly frustrated when the match was postponed, Thordarson himself walked back onto the pitch after a lengthy stay in the dressing room and kicked up water on a field that was simply unplayable.
Cup crowning delayed
Lifting the Voyageurs Cup assures passage into the Champions League preliminary round where either TFC or the Whitecaps will play a home-and-away series with Nicaragua's Real Esteli in late July.
Vancouver’s horrid start all but forces the 'Caps to pour their resources into the continental tournament should they advance from the replay.
Earning just a single victory through 11 MLS matches, Vancouver's CONCACAF qualification could jump-start an inaugural MLS campaign that has the Whitecaps residing at the bottom of the league table.
For the Reds, it’s an opportunity to accomplish what they’ve failed to do that past two seasons – be the first Canadian team to advance past the group stage since Montreal in 2008.
Toronto should have an easier time advancing this time around if they make good on today’s opportunity. The Reds would be heavily favoured to get by Real Esteli and into what has to be considered the easiest group with Panama's Tauro, Mexico's UNAM and one of FC Dallas or Salvadoran club Alianza.
For Thordarson and the 'Caps it’s a nervous step back in the direction of 2009.
For TFC, it’s a second chance at earning a CONCACAF birth after being outplayed for the second time in as many weeks.