Whitecaps win the battle but lose the war, falling 5-3 to Toronto on penalties

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

Vancouver 2 (Hurtado, Morales) – Toronto 1 (Henry) (3-3 aggregate, 5-3 Toronto on penalties)

Toronto scored early through Doneil Henry on a scramble play in the box, before Erik Hurtado would take a Pedro Morales over the top ball and blast it past Toronto keeper Joe Bendik to tie the match at 1. Hurtado would then get taken down by Henry late in the 2nd half, and Pedro Morales would tie the overall aggregate score 3-3 on the penalty kick and send the playoff to extra time. The tie would go to penalties where Joe Bendik would stop Kekuta Manneh, and Toronto would score on all five of its chances past Marco Carducci to take the tie 5-3 on penalties.

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The Vancouver Whitecaps played host to Toronto FC Wednesday evening for the 2nd leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final under an open roof at BC Place. The Whitecaps entered the 2nd leg down 2-1, and head coach Carl Robinson went with relatively the same lineup that played the first leg, with Pedro Morales and Kekuta Manneh the only changes to the starting lineup that featured Canadians Marco Carducci in goal, and Russell Teibert and Bryce Alderson in midfield.

Toronto FC would get on the board first in the 4th minute, with Nick Hagelund beating Marco Carducci on a dangerous Michael Bradley delivery as Carducci tried to catch instead of punch the ball. The ball would originally be cleared off the line by Christian Dean, but the ball stayed near the post and Doneil Henry poked home from close range, with Dean unable to do anything after the momentum from his first attempt took him into the net. Vancouver would go down 1-0, and 3-1 on aggregate early.

The Whitecaps then had two shouts for a penalty soon after with Erik Hurtado being felled in the bo on the right side, then Kekuta Manneh on the continuation of the play being clattered on the left while taking a shot, but the referee simply waved the protests away.

Toronto FC’s Kyle Bekker would earn a yellow card in the 16th minute for a foul on Pedro Morales in midfield. The resulting possession would eventually end up in the box, where Pedro Morales dribbled into the six yard box before passing to Kekuta Manneh, who first faked then shot over the bar from six yards out.

20 minutes into the match and Toronto FC really started to crowd their own box, giving the Whitecaps the lions share of possession but making it difficult to get shots on goal. However Toronto would give up a free kick on 22 minutes just outside the box, and Pedro Morales would step up to take the free kick but would only manage to hit the wall of defenders in front of him.

Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell would be called for a yellow card just outside the box for a foul on Issey Nakajima Ferran. Michael Bradley would take the free kick, forcing Marco Carducci to make a diving stop to his right. On the resulting corner Pedro Morales would forced to clear off the line to keep the match at 1-0.

On 42 minutes the Whitecaps would get their goal, with Erik Hurtado latching to a Pedro Morales over the top ball and then blasting past Joe Bendik to tie the game and bring the aggregate score to 3-2 for Toronto FC.

In first half stoppage time the Whitecaps would almost take the lead but Pedro Morales’ diving header would just go over the bar. The teams would go into the match tied 1-1, but with Toronto FC up 3-2 on aggregate.

The Whitecaps would continue to have the lions share of posession early in the 2nd half but couldn’t manage to score, but would eventually force Doneil Henry to foul Nicolas Mezquida just outside the box to the left of Joe Bendik by the byline. The ball would go out for a couple subsequent corners before Pedro Morales would finally shoot high just before the 60 minute mark.

Marco Carducci came up with a blunder in the 62nd minute, gifting the ball to Toronto FC but making up for it by coming out and denying Gilberto from in close to keep the aggregate score at 3-2. Toronto would make their first substitution after that in the 63rd minute, with Kyle Bekker on a yellow card, coming off for Daniel Lovitz.

In the 66th minute the Whitecaps would bring on Matias Laba for Bryce Alderson, who put in a good shift getting into positions but seemed unwilling or unable to take shots from distance. A few minutes later Omar Salgado would come on for Nicholas Mezquida, who looked to have suffered an injury just before coming off.

In the 73rd minute play was stopped momentarily as Issey Nakajima-Ferran looked to have suffered a head or neck injury after bumping awkwardly into a Whitecaps player, but he would be able to get up and eventually play would resume.

Toronto FC looked to get a substitution on but would have to wait till the 78th minute to eventually Bring Mark Bloom on for Ashtone Morgan as the Whitecaps one again controlled play.

Both teams would make substitutions in the around the 81 minute mark, with the Whitecaps bringing on Sebastian Fernandez for Christian Dean, and Toronto FC bringing on Dwayne De Rosario on for Gilberto.

In the 84th minute Erik Hurtado was felled in the box by Doneil Henry. Pedro Morales would step up and take the penalty kick, and vault them into the lead 2-1, tying the aggregate score 3-3 and on 86 minutes looked to send the game into extra time.

In the 89th minute the Whitecaps would earn a free kick, and Pedro Morales’ delivery would find the head of Carlyle Mitchell, but his header would go just wide of the post.

In stoppage time a long ball for Omar Salgado would find it’s way into the box. Salgado and Toronto FC’s Doneil Henry and Joe Bendik would all clash, with both Toronto players taking the worst of it. The referee would call time with the aggregate score 3-3, and with both teams scoring an away goal in each leg, the playoff would go into extra time.

The first half of extra time was played at a rather pedestrian pace compared to the rest of the match, both teams would trade chances, with Toronto getting a free kick chance on one end, and Omar Salgado testing Joe Bendik on the other end. Both teams would trade chances again before the end of the first half of stoppage time before the referee blew for half time in extra time as Marco Carducci caught Michael Bradley’s cross.

In the 2nd half of extra time Dwayne De Rosario had the best chance on goal on 21 minutes, curling a low shot past Carducci and off the post, showing flashes of his old brilliance but not enough to give Toronto the lead. Toronto would come close again with Daniel Lovitz’s shot being tipped onto the bar by Carducci, resulting in a corner. Michael Bradley would take his sweet time with the corner kick, which was partially cleared by the Whitecaps, but Kekuta Manneh would then foul Nakajima-Ferran in a dangerous position. Bradley would take the free kick and shoot high over the bar, ending Toronto’s possession.

The referee would call for full time, and the match would then go to penalty kicks.

The Penalty kicks woul take place in front of the southsiders, and Toronto FC would go first. Bradley Orr and Matias Laba would trade goals before Toronto’s Luke Moore put them in the lead 2-1. Kekuta Manneh would then step up and shoot weakly to Bendik’s right, with the Toronto keeper able to make the save. Toronto would then score from the spot from De Rosario and Bradley, while the Whitecaps would reply with Sebastian Fernandez and Russell Teibert before Issey Nakajima-Ferran stepped up with the winner, shooting it to the right of Marco Carducci to send Toronto to the Canadian Championship final against Montreal.

Overall, it was an entertaining match with the Whitecaps winning the battle but losing the war, 3-3 on aggregate, 5-3 on penalties. The Whitecaps now have a well earned break before hosting the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, May 24th.

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