"I don't know how to feel right now" - Tim Parker
"Devastated man, really. I can’t really put it into any other words than that. It's definitely crushing." - Jordan Harvey
"Can't put in to words how gutted I am. Nothing I wanted more then give our fans that trophy. Sorry to have let my teammates down" - David Ousted via Twitter
Just a sampling of player reaction after a soul-annihilating defeat at the hands of TFC. Supporter and fan reaction ranges from sheer and utter disbelief to blaming the referee, in this case, Drew Fischer. This is the same Drew Fischer that screwed FC Edmonton out of a place in the Finals of the 2014 Voyageurs Cup with one of the worst handball calls I've ever seen in my life.
While blaming Fischer would be an easy way to do things, I've maintained that a good team can deal with bad or suspect officiating, great teams overcome it. That's all I'll comment on that. As for what led up to the winning goal by Will Johnson, well, there's only a handful of people who know exactly what went on, and those would be within earshot of David Ousted and Kendall Waston.
Every time David has felt that the loss was on him, he took to Twitter to apologize to the fans, supporters and his teammates. Obviously, he was inundated with replies of support and again took to Twitter to thank everyone for the support. To me, this is what makes David such a revered part of this club and a deserving captain. Nothing against Pedro, but there are times I feel his shortcomings sometimes are a detriment to the team.
What now? Well, a trip to Stubhub on Monday to face the Galaxy in Carson. Never an easy task, but this will be a good barometer of the 2016 Whitecaps. We all saw what happened after the 2015 Voyageurs Cup, the team struggled down the stretch, and somehow still managed to host a playoff game and flame out there. There's a thought out there that having lost the Cup at home, will help re-focus this team for the stretch drive, especially with a daunting Houston-FC Dallas-Central FC-Colorado roadtrip right after the Palace friendly.
As for evaluating the past couple of games, a mixed bag for sure. In hindsight, 1-0 loss in the first leg basically cost this team the Voyageurs Cup. Granted, it was a lucky deflection off of Waston's leg, but be that as it may, it's still a goal. They got away with a bad first leg against Ottawa, but that was some inferior competition. I'll come back to this in a paragraph or two. Next up was a trip to Talen Energy Stadium and a surprising 3-2 win over the Eastern leading Philadelphia Union.
The big question was: What sort of lineup was Robbo gonna field for the 2nd leg. We all waited and at 6pm, we found out....it was his best 11. No need to re-hash the match, but I don't have any real issues with his player management, however, I would've liked to have seen Blas enter before Davies.
Getting back to a more interesting subject. We all should be able to recall Leg 1 of each round in the 3 Voyageurs Cup tournaments that Robbo has led the Caps into. Each time, he didn't even field a starting 11 that resembled what he could've, opting for youth. In the context of a 2 legged affair, one can see his reasoning. If things don't go well, the best 11 could be fielded for the return leg. It worked against Edmonton in 2013 and 2015 (requiring a last second goal by Laba) in the semi-final round. You could argue that it worked against Toronto in 2014, however, does fielding your B team in a loss to TFC on penalties count? As for the final in 2013 and 2016, I would have to make a case that the lack of an away goal was their undoing as it would've totally changed the complexion of the game. As for 2015, 2 yellows early in the match changed that game, allowing the Caps to comfortably capture the Voyageurs Cup.
Is there an easy answer to any of this? Try and score an away goal when the average age of your team is 5 years younger than your competition? Easy peasy, right? The last away goal the Caps scored in the Voyageurs Cup was Pedro's 72nd minute free kick in 2015 at Stade Saputo.
It should be interesting to see how this team, and fanbase, react to this setback. The fanbase, including the supporters groups, have 9 days to regroup before Colorado comes to town on the 9th. Up first though, a first team trip to LA, followed by the U18 playoff game on July 7th, at Burnaby Central Secondary (where the Residency kids go to school, to boot), at 3pm.