For nearly half an hour on Wednesday night it looked as though the Whitecaps would become back-to-back Canadian champions. Vancouver took advantage of a Bradley-less, Irwin-less Toronto FC squad to stake out to a 2-0 lead (2-1 on aggregate) and carried that lead well into stoppage time. A disinterested and detached Giovinco, seen moping around the pitch at BC Place for 90 minutes, didn’t help TFC’s cause much either.
Everything was seemingly coming up Whitecaps. After a rather pedestrian first 45, Carl Robinson subbed in firecracker Nicolás Mezquida at half-time in place of Russell Teibert. The move paid immediate dividends when the Uruguayan scored just two minutes later. Tim Parker pushed the Caps into the pole position after a nifty chest-to-foot volley in the 68th minute found the netting in behind replacement keeper Alex Bono.
But then, at 90 + 5, one of the preeminent instances of Vancouvering happened. It was a magical collection of follies and foolishness not seen since Larry, Curly and Moe were atop the entertainment world. Kendall Waston, who had been playing arguably his best game this season, decided one more aerial clearance was needed to salt the win away. David Ousted decided that the lobbed ball into the box was his (it was his). Every other Caps defender decided that the ball was someone else’s to take care of (it was David Ousted’s to take care of) and were content to watch it fall.
The result was as follows:
- Ousted calling for the ball.
- Waston ignoring that call.
- Ousted momentarily catching the ball over Waston’s head.
- Waston heading the ball out of Ousted’s hands while hip-checking his keeper to the ground.
- The ball being served up to charging TFC midfielder and Canadian International Will Johnson.
- The ball being pounded into the top of the net with seconds remaining.
Give credit where credit is due, it was a fantastic finish by Johnson, who sacrificed his tibia in order to produce the heroics and earn his team the Voyageurs Cup. But this championship was, if I may borrow from the book of cliché, lost by the Whitecaps, not won by Toronto FC. Vancouver lost the championship the week before, when the Whitecaps failed to score away from home and looked to be the second best team on the field in all facets of the game in the first leg. The Caps had previously fallen victim the away-goals tiebreaker in 2013, allowing the Montreal Impact to raise the cup in front of the faithful at B.C. Place.
It’s the latest entry in the list of CanChamp heartbreak for the Caps. The Voyageurs Cup has proven to be altogether elusive for the club, with last year’s (seemingly) miraculous victory standing alone in six attempts in the finals and eight attempts overall. The Whitecaps always seem to fall victim to cruel and unusual ways en route to finishing second-best – it’s no wonder Vancouver fans have developed a bit of complex. Some say that’s just the nature of sport. I say, we’ve been officially Vancouver’d.