The Vancouver Whitecaps managed to avoid major embarrassment on a dreary Wednesday night at BC place by tying FC Edmonton 1-1 in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semi-final. By all accounts it was a disappointing game and could easily have been a shock loss if it weren’t for a scrappy Gershon Koffie goal in the 87th minute.
With a quick glance at the 'Caps starting XI you could see that Carl Robinson didn't think the NASL Edmonton team would be too much trouble. The Vancouver lineup was almost entirely reserve team youngsters looking to prove themselves, and with the Whitecaps' supposed endless depth, the team selection seemed to be a good idea.
However, things took a turn for the worse almost immediately after the opening kickoff. The ‘Caps went down a goal in the 4th minute after a scrappy giveaway by Koffie, who was put under pressure after a bad pass from Christian Dean. Despite the obvious wakeup call, the Whitecaps couldn’t seem to maintain possession for any length of time. Their offense was loose and ineffective for the first half an hour, giving the Eddies plenty of chances to get comfortable and attack.
The Whitecaps turned the tide and managed to salvage more possession in the second half, but they never truly seemed to hit full stride. Deybi Flores looked exciting at times in the first 45’, but he limped off after an ineffectual start to the second half. Sam Adekugbe also went off injured in the 17th minute and was replaced by Jordan Harvey. Substitutes Kekuta Manneh and Robert Earnshaw added life late in the game, but they lacked the finishing quality that the ‘Caps so sorely needed.
The Sportsnet commentators mentioned that this was a Whitecaps lineup that hadn’t played together before, and the team did nothing to prove otherwise. However, it wasn’t as though these were players that had been starved of minutes. Every player on the XI has played a part in either an MLS or USL match this season, which hasn’t always been the case in previous years. There can be no excuses for the dismal performance on Wednesday night, so the only thing left for the team to do is pick up the pieces and redeem themselves in a week’s time.