So, with the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 up, 2-1 on aggregate over Toronto FC and about 60 minutes gone, due to torrential rain, poor field conditions, and an ongoing lightning storm in the vicinity of BMO field, the players were taken off the pitch and eventually the game was cancelled. With even more rain falling overnight and the threat of lightning still around, the decision was made not to replay the game this morning, but instead to reschedule it for Saturday July 2nd. As per the rules of the comeptition, that game will not pick up where we left off, but instead will start again at 0-0 for a full 90 minutes or more.
There are many ways to look at this, over at Eightysix Forever, Benjamin Massey went with hysterical ranting (his own words), suggesting this is all part of some grand CSA conspiracy to screw over the Whitecaps. He also suggests that no matter what happens the Whitecaps are the moral victors, confusing being ahead after 60 minutes with having won the game.
He goes on to suggest that as lightning didn't actually hit the stadium itself, they should have just kept going, good job he wasn't in charge of anything at Slave Lake recently. Also he suggests that after the players were taken off, TFC should have been working harder to keep the rain off the pitch, using squeegees or tarps to protect the pitch. After all while players deserve to have their saftey thought of, whatever groundskeepers TFC have on staff certainly shouldn't have that luxury.
Anyone thinking rationally can agree that calling the game off was the right decision, and rescheduling for July 2nd was probably also a good choice, the clubs involved and the CSA making the best of a tough situation. The decision to completely restart the game is obviously a bit more contentious. As a TFC supporter, I'm not going to pretend I'm not chuckling about Eric Hassli's goal being wiped off or that I wouldn't be bitching if it happened the other way round. It's definitely unlucky, maybe even unfair, I can certainly see where the anger comes from, but the rules (agred to by all sides beforehand) are the rules.
So I'm not going to blame the CSA and suggest that they metaphorically took a dump in the Voyageurs Cup, instead I'm going to praise them, this could be the best thing that's happened to the competition.
Let's face it, the Canadian Championship is currently a comeptition with only 4 teams, hardly at the level of the US Open Cup, never mind more famous worldwide competitions. Again, let's face it, as with all North American football, it's not the highest quality, if it's the best football you're looking for, why not just stay home and watch the UEFA Champions league, or the latest 'el clasico' fiasco. Once again, let's face it, with the timing of the competition, it's always going to be up against the Stanley Cup playoffs, the best and most intense time of Canada's most popular sport.
So why watch? It's what all the arguments about supporting local football can be whittled down to. Emotions.
A place in the qualifying round of the CCL is a good prize, and the Voyageurs Cup itself and national bragging rights are very important, but what this final in particular, and the competition as a whole going forward needed is a good rivalry, and nothing fuels a rivalry like a sense of injustice and a big chip on your shoulder, especially combined with playing a lot of games in a short time.
TFC and Columbus play for the Trillium Cup, but no-one has ever cared about that. Instead it was the huge TFC away following invading Columbus, and behaving a bit boorishly (urinating on a fence next to a church, by the reaction of Columbus fans, you'd think someone had actually gone into the church and pissed on the altar) that got things started. Add in some tazer happy cops and the infuriating fact that TFC still haven't beaten Columbus in 12 tries, and hey presto, you've got a rivalry.
TFC and the Whitecaps? Well, if you take away all the usual Canadian cultural and political issues, the 'centre of the universe' antipathy that the rest of Canada has for Toronto and look at just the two teams, well there's no real hate there. Vancouver have their Cascadia Cup rivals, and due to a long USL/NASL/whatever rivalry, Montreal. TFC have Columbus and Montreal, sure it's a bit more important than a regular game against say Colorado, but nothing to really get worked up about. Attendances at both grounds for the final confirmed that.
Now though, now, there's a rivalry. Rightly or wrongly, Vancouver feel cheated. From Montreal's capitualtion in 2009, they feel cheated, from the way the format of and seeding for this years trophy was decided, they feel cheated. After their poor finishing combined with some poor refereeing to allow TFC to escape a first leg that Vancouver dominated with a draw, there was a lot of exasperation and frustration and a sense of doom that it just wasn't going to work out for them, but still, no real anger towards TFC. Now they really feel cheated, they have a whole new injustice to stew over, a new chip to perfectly balance out the one they already had on their other shoulder, and a newly found hate for TFC.
The other crucial ingredient for a rivalry that I mentioned is a sense of familiarity, and here is where the choice of when to reschedule the game is absolutely perfect. Vancouver are already going to be in Toronto to play an MLS game on June 29th, now we get to immediately follow that with a game on July 2nd. It all takes place over the Canada day long weekend as well, so there should be a lot more fans travelling from Vancouver to attend the two games and have a long weekend away, than there were for yesterdays game, and a big away following is always good for a rivalry.
Imagine if someone is injured in the league game and has to miss the cup final. Oh the accusations and recriminations that could follow. Whatever the result in the first game, whatever on or off field controversies might happen, it's just going to stoke the fire for the second game, when we all have to come back again three days later.
Whitecaps fans will want to win to stick it to TFC, the CSA, the Impact, all the people that they imagine have conspired to rob them of Voyageurs Cup glory so far. TFC fans would love nothing more than to send the Whitecaps fans home crying about 'moral victories'.
This comment Benjamin Massey wrote under his own post sums it up nicely.
By the way, this probably goes without saying, but my post from earlier today about supporting Toronto in the Champions League is now inoperative. I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire.
That kind of feeling is a good thing. This Canada day weekend is going to be HUGE. Thank you CSA.