It's a cup final! Wednesday night the Vancouver Whitecaps have the opportunity to win the Voyageurs Cup and be crowned as the Champions of Canada. A win places them at the top of the heap, a heap comprised of five club teams playing in the top two tiers of Canadian soccer. The kings of Canada you could say, with an opportunity to conquer not just North America, but Central America and the Caribbean. That would make them the kings of the Northwestern hemisphere with an opportunity to conquer the world. Yes, a win tomorrow opens the door to world club domination. Leonardo DiCaprio and his sinking ship would have nothing on the Whitecaps if that were to happen.
Hyperbole? Yup. Getting ahead of ourselves? You betcha. In need of a reality check? Probably. But, this is a chance for hardware and for fans and for the players holding the cup mean's winning and that's why we're here. For that, and a good time. On Wednesday night the Whitecaps have the opportunity to defend as Canadian champions against Toronto FC in front of their fans at BC Place. How much fun would that be!
For most of us on this site it's the Voyageurs Cup, a fan generated cup founded by Canada's largest fan group, the Voyageurs, and awarded by the CSA to the winner of the Canadian Championship. To the corporate world it's the Amway Canadian Championship, and to a small group of locals it's the Cha-moon-a-hip (Don't ask, I don't really know. Something about a long car ride in the wilderness and yelling out a window). The ‘Caps have won the tournament once and TFC has won it four times, the last time in 2012.
Coach Robinson has used the tournament up to now as a chance for his Canadian players to get minutes, "It's their cup, they should play for it." That philosophy, even if it is the correct one, almost cost the ‘Caps in their opening game against the Ottawa Fury. In that game he played seven Canadians in a lackluster 2-0 loss. They needed to come back with a 3-0 win in the second leg, and to do that, Robinson pulled out the big guns leaving only two Canadians to feature in that game. Fast forward to the first leg of the final in Toronto and the ‘Caps featured five Canadians, Russell Teibert, Sam Adegkube, Ben McKendry, Fraser Aird and Alphonso Davies in a 1-0 loss. It's a small sample size but I think Robbo continues his pattern of playing less Canadians in the second leg so he can put a stronger lineup on the field. Perhaps one day our strongest lineup will include our Canadians, but not yet.
With both teams playing last Saturday there will be some squad rotation to manage. TFC doesn't play again until July 9th, so advantage Toronto. However, Vancouver's next game isn't until Monday (whuh?), so maybe Robbo can just worry about Wednesday's final. So who will we see on the field? Even coming off their 3-2 win in Philly on the weekend, I think its possible to see the team's best eleven. Kendall Waston will be back after missing the last game to suspension. Matias Laba was rested last Wednesday. Pedro Morales came off at the 60 minute mark when we expected him to but hobbled off with a tight calf muscle, which is concerning. Do we see Christian Bolaños, who played the full 90? Or Techera, who came on as a sub? Or do we see both with Manneh up top? Because we know Octavio Rivero won't be there. It's not been made official but he's all but on the plane to join Colo Colo in Chile. Teibert is captain Canada, but do we see him start or off the bench? And, the stellar debut of Davies comes to an end, as his eligible first team games were limited without a first team contract.
Toronto is coming off their 3-2 loss to Orlando on the weekend. They will be forced to play the young Alex Bono in goal after Clint Irwin went down with a quad injury Saturday. We can expect to see Giovinco in the game, but will we see Michael Bradley who last played for team USA in Saturday's loss to Columbia in the Copa America?
The ‘Caps have to win by 2 goals to win on aggregate or hold the score to a 1-0 lead to go to penalty kicks. They win and they will be crowned defending Canadian champions and qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League one more time.
It's a cup final! How great is that?