It happened again. Sweet tap-dancing Christ, just when I thought things would be different, just when I had the faintest glimmer of hope the Vancouver Whitecaps were finally going to capture the Voyageurs Cup, it happened again. Needing a win to claim the Cup, the Vancouver Whitecaps allowed a late Montreal goal to finish at a 2-2 draw, and a loss on goal differential. The unthinkable happened; the Whitecaps have now lost 5 straight Voyageur Cup finals. Un-freaking-believable.
It had all the makings of a triumphant victory for the Whitecaps, especially early on. The Whitecaps fielded a stacked lineup that included Camilo, Kenny Miller and Russell Teibert pushing the play forward. Nigel Reo-Coker, Gershon Koffie and Jun Marques Davidson made up the midfield, while YP Lee, Johnny Leveron and Andy O'Brien took their usual spots on the backline. Head Coach Martin Rennie must've read my match preview, because he did decide to go with Brad Knighton in net.
Believe it or not, the Whitecaps actually got off to a rockin' start. The atmosphere at BC Place was electric, even though the roof was closed due to weather. It also helped that after a few chances right off the hop, Camilo would score a dazzling free kick goal just 4 minutes in. It was a rocket from 35 yards out that beat Evan Bush to make the score 1-0. It was also the second straight match Camilo scored off a free kick.
Russell Teibert tried to double the margin at 12', when he cut into the box and unleashed a shot, but Busch did well to knock the ball over the net. The Whitecaps and Impact traded chances, but it looked like the Whitecaps held a slight edge in play. At 25', Nigel Reo-Coker tried to prove that, sending in a shot from the left that juuuust missed the net.
At 30 minutes, Gershon Koffie tried to head home a YP Lee cross in the box, but it went overtop of the net. Still, the Whitecaps were pushing, trying to get that important 2 goal lead. Kenny Miller would end the half with a shot of his own, but Bush was there to make the save.
The 'Caps had gotten their fair share of chances, but had just the one goal to show for it. Somehow, you just figured all those missed opportunities would come back to haunt them.
Of course, this is when the nightmare started.
All season long the 'Caps have struggled starting the second half; well, of course, that continued. Just four minutes into the second half, Felipe took a shot from outside the top of the box that beat Brad Knighton, although I'm not sure anyone could have stopped it. Just like that, it was 1-1, and the 'Caps needed to score another goal. Typically, this has not been the Whitecaps strong suit. It only got worse at 57', when Gershon Koffie was clipped by Felipe and stayed down. He eventually had to be taken off on a stretcher, a huge loss for the 'Caps. Koffie is easily one of their best and most consistent players. The Whitecaps twitter feed would later confirm it was a right quad strain.
At 62', Reo-Coker had another brilliant chance he just couldn't bury, as his shot from the right side of the box just missed the net. However, he redeemed himself almost immediately.
At 68', Reo-Coker took a trademark surge down the right side, before crossing to substitute Daigo Kobayashi, who had come on for Koffie. Kobayashi's first shot was stopped, but his second sure wasn't, sending the Whitecaps crowd of 18,000 strong into a frenzy.
At 71', the 'Caps kept coming, with Camilo taking a pass from Russell Teibert after some nice work, before the young Brazilian smashed the ball off the bar. It was just so damn close to being 3-1, and being over.
Despite the 'Caps attack looking stronger, Martin Rennie substituted Jordan Harvey in for Kenny Miller. It is a move that will undoubtedly be questioned for the rest of this season at least. Why take Miller off? Is it because he's coming off injury? Why not send in Kekuta Manneh then, or Matt Watson? Watson is defensively responsible, and can provide some offense as well. Instead of going in for the kill, Rennie played it safe. Wouldn't you know it, that decision cost the Whitecaps, dearly.
At 84' minutes, and off a corner, the Whitecaps conceded the tying goal. Hassoun Camara headed home the Impact corner with absolutely no one marking him, to make it 2-2. The Whitecaps have had issues with set pieces all season long, and it came back to bite them. Despite everything working in their favor; the bye week, home advantage, Miller coming back from injury, the Whitecaps still lost the Championship. Somehow, the Whitecaps have broken our hearts again.
In extra time the Whitecaps got two good chances to pull out the miracle comeback, to make us all happy again. Who was the trigger man? JORDAN. FUCKING. HARVEY. BOTH. TIMES. First, a header he couldn't steer home, then a shot that narrowly missed the net.
I'm about spend, so that's it for me. However, I will say one final thing; it is very hard to defend Martin Rennie after this match. One wonders how much time he has left here in Vancouver. Tyler Green tweeted if Rennie had won tonight, it would've extended his contract by a year. One things for sure; with the Canadian Championship gone, this team had better start winning, now.