Toronto FC win Canadian Championship

Toronto FC hoists the winners' trophy after defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 during the...

Toronto FC hoists the winners' trophy after defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 during the Canadian Championship at BMO Field Wednesday night. (GETTY)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 AM ET

TORONTO - Talk about a Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit.

Unable to sniff victory in league play, Toronto FC remains a juggernaut in outside competition and for the fourth year in a row, is Canadian champion.

In a bitter, at times nasty affair, the Reds soundly outplayed the Vancouver Whitecaps — the shots were 13-4 — and used an 83rd-minute goal by Reggie Lambe to ensure a 1-0 victory.

TFC, 0-9 in Major League Soccer play in 2012, has lost only once in eight other contests this year (three of them wins) and has not lost in the Canadian Championship in its past 13 matches.

“Finally a moment for relief. It’s very nice,” admitted embattled Reds head coach Aron Winter afterwards.

Toronto was aggressive from the start, pushing forward with a purpose.

“This Cup was very important for the pride of Toronto, to keep this Cup here all these years, it was something I wanted to win and the players really wanted to win for our fans and organization,” tournament MVP Ryan Johnson said.

“It’s been such a bad year. We definitely didn’t want to lose the Cup to Vancouver.”

Lambe made sure that didn’t happen.

Torontonian Ashtone Morgan’s fine work eventually allowed Jeremy Hall to send in a cross that Soolsma laid down for Lambe to finish.

His strike came just three minutes after a Nick Soolsma goal was negated by an off-side call.

Thanks to a 1-1 draw in Vancouver a week ago, Toronto could have won the Voyageurs Cup simply with a 0-0 draw.

But the team went for a goal, controlling the bulk of the match.

The action picked up once both sides were dropped down to 10 men after tempers flared.

Julian de Guzman lost his cool and was booted with a straight red card after lightly backhanding Vancouver’s Jun Marques Davidson, who de Guzman accused of stomping on his heel.

Things looked dark for the hosts until Sebastien Le Toux found his night ending early as well thanks to a second yellow card.

The fracas brought to life a small crowd of 13,777 that had been rather sedate up until that point.

The two teams clearly do not like each other. Vancouver feels it was robbed a year ago when a thunderstorm forced a restart and vaporized a 1-0 lead.

The Whitecaps also are bitter that the Montreal Impact laid an egg back in 2009, allowing the Reds to thump them to deny Vancouver its first Voyageurs Cup on goal differential.

In this one, the Whitecaps’ best chance came in the second half when Davide Chiumiento fired a free kick from just above the box high.

Hard to believe that Toronto, so dismal in a dull draw in Montreal to start this competition and so unlucky in MLS play, rules Canada again.

Toronto beat Montreal 2-0 at BMO to advance to the final and played decently in a 1-1 draw in Vancouver, holding the lead until Eric Hassli’s brilliant strike in stoppage time.

Vancouver took out Edmonton 5-1 on aggregate to set up its latest chance at a first Canadian Championship and is 5-3-3 in league play – 18 points ahead of Toronto.

The Reds now once again go on to the CONCACAF Champions League, though this time they go straight to the group stage as the preliminary round has been eliminated.

With the MLS playoffs all but out of reach, it will provide the club a chance to salvage its season, similar to a year ago.

TFC lost to Mexican champion Santos Laguna in the 2012 edition of the CCL after a strong run.

CAPS COACH HAS SOUR GRAPES

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie had a roomful of players to blame following Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to Toronto FC.

The squad, a more talented, better-performing unit during league play this year completely let its coach down in a flat, defensively-challenged outing that cost the Whitecaps the Canadian Championship.

Knowing his team can compete for a playoff spot in Major League Soccer, Rennie through referee Silviu Petrescu under the bus instead of his players.

Rennie could not believe his side did not end up with a man advantage following a second-half tussle.

“I was literally two yards away from it. (Julian) de Guzman came across and threw somebody on the ground and then I’d say punched someone in the face,” Rennie said.

“From that incident we earn nothing. I’m absolutely at a loss on how that can happen in the game of football. That was a huge moment on the game. I think there’s more pressure on the referee because he’s from Toronto. I’m very surprised that the (Canadian Soccer Association) decided to do that.

“I’m surprised that the referee was from Toronto. Surely there’s enough officials within Canada to have someone that’s not from Toronto?”


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