All I have to say is that that game went exactly according to plan.
That’s it. Nothing else.
95’ Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Toronto FC — AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA breath AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
84’ Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Toronto FC — Hurtado finishes off a decent effort from the Whitecaps, and the home team goes in front in the dying stages. Looks like TFC are on the verge of squandering a man advantage...
74’ — Alphonso Davies shows off his incredible pace and leaves TFC’s defenders completely helpless, but Clint Irwin comes up huge to deny the chance — seemed fated for the back of the net.
70’ — Greg Vanney uses his final sub, a little early. Jason Hernandez enters to replace Ashtone Morgan.
64’ — Tough look for Auro, who seemed to pull his left hamstring chasing down an errant pass. Another Canadian comes into the game, with Ryan Telfer slotting in on the left and Morrow moving to the right flank. Auro looks in a lot of pain on the bench.
46’ — After a half, Chris Mavinga will come off for Justin Morrow.
HT — Referee calls for the interval with the score knotted at 1-1. It was an entertaining half, with chances on each side. TFC generally controlled much of the play, although Vancouver was quite dangerous on the counter-attack and through set pieces. That said, it was a moment of carelessness from Tosaint Ricketts that handed the Whitecaps their goal. Oso made up for it and then some a minute later, of course.
45’ — What?! Vancouver midfielder Felipe has been shown a red card for a studs-up challenge on Marky Delgado. Honestly, not sure it’s worthy of a sending off, but he catches the TFC midfielder fairly high and misses the ball by a significant margin. Toronto will certainly take it just before halftime.
27’ Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Toronto FC — Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Great work by Auro to win back the ball in the half-space, and a good short cross by Marky Delgado, but an absolutely sublime finish by Jonathan Osorio on the volley gives TFC an away goal. What an unbelievable response from the man now tied with Sebastian Giovinco for TFC’s all-time lead in Canadian Championship goals.
24’ Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 Toronto FC — Ref points to the spot as Tosaint Ricketts goes waay out of his way to handle a lofted ball from a corner. Kei Kamara steps up and smashes the penalty off the left post and in.
19’ — TFC come so close to one of their own, as Michael Bradley’s perfect ball over the top finds Jozy Altidore in the box, but his leaping header bounces wide of the right post.
16’ — A close moments for the Reds as Nick Hagglund does well to run down Kei Kamara and avert the danger — but not for long, as it bounces out to Cristian Techera, who belts one from well outside the box that skims the crossbar.
1’ — We’re off!
At this point, I’m really quite certain that the last few months have been entirely about Toronto FC preparing for the Canadian Championship. Tonight, those preparations come to a head as they kick off Leg 1 of the Voyageurs Cup Final, at BC Place against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
This is an extremely important competition for the Reds, considering how desperate they are to get back to the CONCACAF Champions League, with unfinished business in the continental tournament. Canadian supremacy is always a nice notch in your belt, anyway.
The Whitecaps aren’t going to roll over easily, though. Last time these sides met in the final — 2016 — the Reds needed an injury time winner from Will Johnson in the second leg (no pun intended; he did break his leg on the play) to claim the trophy on away goals. Last season, against the Montreal Impact, the same story: nothing was set until Sebastian Giovinco’s 95th-minute winning goal.
Let’s just hope that this year’s final doesn’t feature a serious injury to a TFC player, like the last two have: there was Johnson’s leg, of course, and who could forget Steven Beitashour’s pancreas laceration last year?
TFC got to this stage by beating the Ottawa Fury 4-0 on aggregate. Vancouver’s path was a little tougher, taking on MLS competition in Montreal. The Whitecaps came back from a 1-0 first-leg deficit to win the thing 2-1 on aggregate, with two goals at home in the second leg.
Vancouver sits four points out of a playoff spot in MLS right now, currently seventh in the Western Conference (and seven points ahead of TFC). They’ve won two of their last seven, although their comeback draw on the weekend against New York City FC was impressive, especially with a rotated squad (in preparation for tonight).
Of course, everyone’s eyes will be on young phenom Alphonso Davies, who’s pretty much a lock to start tonight. TFC have already locked in on him as a major threat to watch, considering how much he’s brutalized MLS defences so far this season (Bayern Munich fans, rejoice). Greg Vanney told Sportsnet that Davies is a player the Reds will need to plan for specifically. He has five goals and eight assists in MLS this year.
There isn’t a lot else around Davies for Vancouver, which is part of the reason why they’re not in a playoff spot. Kei Kamara is a dangerous attacker, especially in the air, with nine goals this year. Cristian Techera also has six goals. The backline is anchored by Kendall Waston and former Red Doneil Henry. That’s a decent defence, but TFC certainly have the quality to break through it.
So, what’ll it be for the Reds? Another resurgent performance in an extremely crucial match? Or will they, too, fall victim to Alphonso Davies?
Team news: injuries & suspensions
Toronto FC: The only player MLS lists as unavailable is Drew Moor, who is probably a couple days away with his quadriceps strain. Even he could be back for the weekend, though. Chris Mavinga’s suspension won’t apply to the Canadian Championship, so expect him to start.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Defender Jordon Mutch (foot) is the only injured player for the Caps.
How to watch
Match date/time: Wednesday, August 8, 10 p.m. ET
TV channel: TSN 1 & 4 (Canada), RDS 2 (en français)
Live stream: TSN GO, RDS GO