Tonight Toronto did what it usually does when the game sheet doesn't have MLS written on it: win and score goals. This time it was with a full strength squad against a very young very experimental Vancouver side: the byproduct of the latter having league action this weekend. With the 2-1 victory Toronto heads into the second leg in Vancouver the favourites to once again make the Voyageurs Cup final.
Jermain Defoe had the first goal and Michael Bradley the second, Manneh had the goal for the visitors. Toronto had plenty of chances to extend that lead for the second leg but were unable to take advantage, as Marco Carducci had a solid match in net for the Whitecaps.
Re-watch a celebration of all things DP below with Defoe's goal, then the full game in six highlights. A full match report will be up later tonight, provided the bugs don't eat this writer alive on the way home from BMO.
TFC- Defoe (Gilberto) 28'
TFC- Bradley (Defoe) 89'
VAN- Manneh 90'
TFC- Bradley (Caution) 28'
VAN- Mitchell (Caution) 48'
VAN- Reo-Coker (Caution) 58'
Score (On Aggregate)
2-1 Toronto (1st leg)- Semi-Final
Toronto FC- Bendik, Bloom, Caldwell, Henry, Morrow, Rey, Bradley, Bekker, Nakajima-Farran (De Rosario 78'), Defoe, Gilberto (Wiedeman 90')
Unused Subs: Cesar, Richter, Hagglund, Morgan, Orr,
Vancouver- Carducci, Froese, Mitchell, Leveron, Dean, Reo-Coker, Teibert, Bustos (Salgado 63'), Alderson, Mezquida, Hurtado (Manneh 80')
Unused Subs: Tronaghi, Farmer, Piraux, Haynes
RYAN NELSEN - HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Did the late goal sour the overall good performance by the team?
Yes obviously, it was a ricochet. We didn't deal with it, we should have dealt with it and as you said it probably soured our pretty good performance. These games are really awkward; I've played in lots of them in my time where you play a young team that wants to prove themselves to their coach and boy they were up for it. It's one of those games where being on the back end of one you could easily have lost. They're a good team, they are good young players. The way the guys went about themselves I thought they did really well. We couldn't get the second goal during the game to really to kick on and the longer the game went on the longer Vancouver kept their confidence as a young team would.
Defoe probably could have had a few more, there were a lot of opportunities tonight?
Gilberto did, Issey did, Michael Bradley. Everybody had their opportunities to end the tie but unfortunately we didn't. But in saying that, credit to the young players of Vancouver. They did very well. Unfortunately we couldn't get that second and could have got a third and generally that knocks the life out of a young energetic team.
Could you argue that Canadian soccer was the winner on the night with 8 starters and all that young talent?
One hundred percent. Vancouver have got a fantastic academy and they've shown that over the years that they've got a lot of depth to their team with young players and its something that we really want to be as well. I think we are probably a couple years behind them in producing a steady influx of good young Canadian players. You are dead right; I think that Canadian soccer between the organizations, the MLS clubs and other clubs has some fantastic young talent in this country.
JOE BENDIK - GOALKEEPER, TORONTO FC
How did it feel to finally get in a game?
It's a bit bitter sweet. I would have liked to keep the shut out. We set ourselves up for a real opportunity in Vancouver, but now we've got our work cut out.
Overall, the goal was on a deflection. But did it feel good the other 89 minutes?
Yeah of course. All the good training that we do and watch it all come together is nice, but most importantly is the result.
Are you looking forward to getting more time if Brazil goes far enough that Julio Cesar is not back?
Yeah, I'll take it as it comes. I've had to switch roles a little bit. I can't do much about it, but I'm enjoying my time, especially with Julio. Yeah I look forward to it.
MICHAEL BRADLEY - MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Your thoughts on that one? After you scored and the 2 nil lead, how much did the last goal leave a sour spot on the game?
First and foremost it was good to win. Especially after the last few games for us in the league, it was just positive to win. When you look at it a little closer it was certainly disappointing to concede. It was a professional performance in all ways. I don't think it was our best or sharpest night by any means, but still the way we handled the game, the way we took care of things up until that point had been quite good.
Are you happy to see Joe Bendik get in some minutes in a meaningful game this year?
Yeah, he was very sharp. We all have nothing but confidence in him. But I think it's always nice to see him show it and see him come up big when we need it. For us its no surprise we see it every day. But it was certainly a great game for him.
CARL ROBINSON - COACH, VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
What were your thoughts on the game?
I think you've seen in the first 9 games on the Major League Soccer season that we don't give up. We've installed a culture into the team and that is credit to the players because we have a never say die attitude. I think we deserved something at the end of the game, I really did, based off the second half performance.
What did you think of the young players that played tonight?
Froese played very well and that's credit to him. I saw the kid play last year as an assistant coach and I wanted to give him the chance. Because how do you find out when they are ready? You find out when they are ready when you give them the opportunity. I am delighted they played a strong team because that is the level we need to learn. You see Michael Bradley's running power in the 89th minute and you see Jermaine Defoe's finishing in the first half.
What was the emotion going through your head in the last couple minutes where you go down two goals but get one back before the end?
I was a bit frustrated and disappointed because we conceded such a late goal and sometimes there is nothing you can do during a moment of brilliance. Michael Bradley's finish was brilliant, it really was, and in the 89th minute to be still doing that obviously shows the level of his fitness and his desire to go and play in the World Cup. I was very happy with a little bit of magic by the kid Kekuta at the end which makes it an exciting second leg next week.
MARCO CARDUCCI - GOALKEEPER, VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Talk about your experience tonight getting your first start with the Whitecaps...
It's a dream and that was always my goal, and then obviously tonight was a great experience for me now looking back on it already, super excited. The result of the game, getting that away goal at the end is really important for us. I think next Wednesday is another great test and I'm looking forward to that now.
How did you feel at the beginning of the game? Were you feeling the nerves?
Yes, for sure. The situation, the stage, and the players we were up against but once we got through that, with the support of the team of course. Full credit to everyone in front of me especially the back four I thought were magnificent just helping me through. After the first 15 or 20 minutes or so, I felt like I settled in a bit more and just got into the flow.
Do you think the young Canadians made a statement tonight about what you can offer?
Absolutely, I think to get a result like that against that team shows our hard work and it is a positive result for us.
KIANZ FROESE - MIDFIELDER, VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Thoughts on your first professional start...
I was happy to get the opportunity to play with a great group of guys, with my friends. It was nice to just get on the field and have an opportunity to be on the field.
How did you think you performed?
I thought I did well. There is always space for improvement but again I was comfortable and my team was there to back me up which is great.
What do you think about the state of soccer in Canada?
I think it's improving. Obviously Benito (Floro) is doing a good job with us and he is laying down how we want to play. I think we are just moving forward and progressing.
How do you feel going into the second game?
Hopefully go out and be calm, have a general good performance by everybody and hopefully we can take it at home.