When memories of this game fade from the supporters’ minds, the records will show that TFC came away with a 2-1 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO Field. However, the moral victory may lie with Vancouver (as much as it pains me to say it).

TFC took to the field with more than $100m of acquisitions, opting to start all three DPs in a game where traditionally a few fringe players and perhaps some Academy players might get the nod. Only Cesar, Jackson and Osorio were missing from the lineup that started on Saturday but they were ably deputised by Bendik, Rey and Issey.

Vancouver on the other hand had said they would ‘keep it young’ and former TFC player, now Whitecaps manager, Carl Robinson was true to his word with 17 year old Marco Carducci making his professional debut in goal, alongside another three Canadian debutants – Bryce Alderson (20), Marco Bustos (18), and Kianz Froese (18). The average age of the Whitecaps squad on the night was just 22 !!

If ever a game called for one side to go for the jugular right from the off, this was it. TFC could and perhaps should have rattled the young Caps side early on, and tested the 17 year old keeper in particular, but as with previous Canadian Championship games, the pace was a little more sedate! It took TFC 28 minutes to get on the board when Gilberto managed to play a pass to Defoe without the far side linesman ruling it offside and the Englishman stroked it comfortably into the corner from the edge of the box.

That should have opened the floodgates but it didnt. Although TFC had most of the pressure, the final ‘killer’ ball failed to arrive with each attack and as TFC grew frustrated, the Vancouver youngsters seemed to grow in confidence. Into the second half and it was more of the same. TFC’s attack was blunt and Vancouver just soaked things up then went on the counter forcing Bendik to come up with a couple of good saves either side of the break. When TFC did trouble the Vancouver goal, Carducci was up to the task.

The second goal – what was to be the cushion – came in 89 minutes from Michael Bradley. Defoe turned provider this time and again sprung a tight offside trap, and Bradley made no mistake stroking it beyond Carducci.

However, 2 minutes into injury time Vancouver scored what could be a crucial away goal. A deflected Mezquida cross landed at the feet of Kekuta Manneh and he managed to bundle it in from close range. He seemed to have a bit of an altercation with Bendik after scoring and then with DeRo who came to Bendik’s aid, earning both Manneh and DeRo yellow cards.

A final score of 2-0 would have required Vancouver to score 3 in BC next week to progress to the final. However, the away goal in this 2-1 result means that a scoreline of 1-0 would suffice. TFC will progress with a win or a draw or with a loss where they score 2 or more goals but lose only by a single goal (eg 3-2, 4-3 etc).

Positives of the night? It was a win, the first in 4 games. Issey played well (again) and proves to be a thorn in the side of the opposition (again). Rey is also a handful for most opponents.

Frustrations of the night? Gilberto not scoring (again). The Brazilian DP is working his B******* off to try and get that elusive first goal and many believe it might open the floodgates when he does, but the woodwork, offside decisions, and slightly dodgy aim are all conspiring to keep him out. You can feel the frustration …. and we will all feel the joy soon (I hope)

RefWatch: Mathieu Bourdeau had never reffed TFC before and is listed on the PRO referees website as a “4th Official”. The 34 year old Canadian has filled that position in 19 games since the start of 2013 including a handful of TFC games (most recently this past weekend against the Revs). Prior to last night’s game he has been the ref for 3 games in the same period, presiding over Atlanta 2-1 San Antonio (7Y), Pittsburgh 3-4 Wilmington (5Y, 1R) and Edmonton 0-1 NY Cosmos (4Y), all in NASL.

With 5 cautions issued last night he seems pretty card happy – 21 yellows in 4 games – but overall, until the blown handball call that Bgnewf will talk about in his blog at ViewFromTheSouthStands today I thought he had a decent game in the first half, but as the second wore on, he more and more resembled an MLS ref !!!!!!

Player of the Game: I was going to opt for Issey as he did a power of work all night, turning his markers inside out and back to front, and trying to create chances for Defoe and Gilberto, but I think Marco Carducci shades it. The 17 year old kid did not look out of place, did not seemed overawed with $100m worth of talent bearing down on him, and although not tested constantly came up big when required on all but two occasions. Looks like a real prospect for the Caps.


Gallery for this game: HERE



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