It was a sunny, warm afternoon in Edmonton (yeah, really) and the Vancouver Whitecaps visited Clarke Stadium searching for a win (or a tie of two goals or more) that would allow them to advance to the final of the Amway Canadian Championship and face this year's runners-up, the Montreal Impact in hopes to lift the elusive Voyageurs Cup.
In order to achieve said result, Carl Robinson bolstered his lineup with the introduction of several players that did not see action last week at BC Place. Robinson opted to present a fortified spine with Kendall Waston, Russell Teibert, and Pedro Morales joined by Cristian Techera on the right wing as the added boost that the Whitecaps needed to go over the Eddies.
Things could not have started better as Nicolas Mezquida connected a through ball with a smart run by Techera, who proceeded to dribble away VanOekel who, mistimed with challenge and brought down the tiny Uruguayan. Silviu Petrescu did not hesitate and called for a clear penalty that was converted by captain Pedro Morales. The Whitecaps got their away goal only 9 minutes into the match.
It seemed that things were going to go smoothly from there on out for the Blue and White who, despite giving away a tremendous opportunity to Ameobi, controlled the match in midfield with Koffie and Teibert working as the ball winners and with tremendous ball distribution across the pitch. Edmonton seemed to struggle trying to contain the Uruguayan duo of Mezquida and Techera who were buzzing around the final third, switching sides, cutting to the middle and causing all kinds of mayhem. I am not in report card duty for this game but I nominate Techera for Man of the Match.
The second half was not as bright as the first, with Edmonton applying more pressure and the Whitecaps unable to maintain possession with as much ease as they did in the first 45 minutes. Referee Silviu Petrescu seemed to start blowing his whistle more often which also contributed for a choppy play.
The Eddies started to become more and more dangerous as the game started to dwindle and as Whitecaps supporters started their respective nail-biting session the game did what Voyageurs Cup games do. It all went bananas. Just as the fourth official was announcing an unheard time of seven (yes, seven) minutes of stoppage time, Kendall Waston was a bit overzealous in his marking and he was whistled down for a push in his own box. Ameobi stood tall and put it away to tie the game at one and send us to overtime. Or so we thought.
What at first seemed a ridiculous amount of time of stoppage was, in fact, a blessing in disguise as second half substitute Matias Laba put the game away by squeezing a goal through VanOekel after a melee inside the box and a shot by the Argentinian from a tight angle at the 97th minute.
The Whitecaps did just enough to earn their berth to the final. However, they will have to prepare to face the Montreal Impact as the final will be played in August. In the meantime, we have a game against the Colorado Rapids this Saturday afternoon.
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