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Match Report: Toronto FC v. Vancouver Whitecaps

A disappointing night for the Whitecaps in Toronto. After battling back after going down to ten-men in the first leg, and earning a hard fought draw, the ‘Caps were thoroughly outplayed by a Toronto FC side that controlled large parts of this game.

MLS: Canadian Championship-Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

With the Canadian Championship final and the Voyageurs Cup on the line, the Vancouver Whitecaps came out of the gates flying. Carl Robinson selected what many would view as the strongest starting XI at his disposal, with Alphonso Davies (hip flexor) and Doneil Henry (hand) both deemed fit enough to start.

In the heart of midfield, Aly Ghazal partnered Russell Teibert,with Yordy Reyna and Kei Kamara spearheading the attack.

Early on, Marcel de Jong showed some real fire down the left flank, and the ‘Caps on the whole were very clearly up for this game. He fired in a cross for Yordy Reyna who only slightly put his diving header wide of Irwin’s near post.

The hosts were having trouble getting into the game, and it was only on a few miscues that allowed TFC some respite to get out of their own half early on, with some relentless pressure coming in wave after wave from the visitors.

With the height of the likes of Waston, Henry and Kamara, it seemed like every set piece was a real opportunity to get something early in this game. In the 12’ minute Kendall Waston nearly got on the end of a good delivery from Cristian Techera, but he was beaten to the ball by Zavaleta who made a good clearance ahead of the big man.

As the half went on, both teams continued to make plenty of committed challenges. This was a cup final, and the match certainly reflected that. For the first half hour it was all Whitecaps, but the goal wouldn’t come.

Then much, like the changing of the tides, at the half hour mark Toronto began to make some chances, with Giovinco attempting about a 40 yard free kick which took a deflection on the way towards Marinovic’s goal, but the Kiwi easily turned it around the post. A few minutes later Morrow made an overlapping run before cutting it back for the former Italian international who put his effort over the bar.

The game really opened up from there on, and just after that Alphonso Davies got his first sight of goal. He cut into the middle of the park and from just outside the 18-yard box he fired his effort off the outside of the right hand post.

TFC came right back, with Jake Chapman testing Marinovic from in close. Stef made a good reaction save and somehow both Waston and Henry were simultaneously there to clear the ball of the line.

Both teams looked capable of getting a goal before half-time, but it was Toronto FC who made the breakthrough. Marky Delgado’s clever back heeled pass sent Altidore through on goal where he slotted home between Marinovic’s legs.

With the Whitecaps now chasing the game, the midfield and the defense were left far too open. Henry lost an aerial ball to Jonathan Osorio, and then while the ‘Caps were trying to get back, Toronto quickly cut them open.

Delgado again played a key role, as his pass on the edge of the box sent Osorio in, where he played a cross back across for Giovinco. From just left of the penalty spot the Italian was able to nod the cross past Marinovic, leaving the Whitecaps with everything to do.

Heading into the second half, the Whitecaps needed a response, and they definitely didn’t come out looking prepared to get a goal back. The first 5 minutes saw the ‘Caps sitting far too deep in their own half, allowing TFC plenty of space to do as they wished in the middle of the park.

Jake Chapman got an early effort on target from in close, before Sebastian Giovinco was allowed plenty of time and space on the right hand wing to fire a ball across the box. It took a slight deflection from de Jong, but still found its way to Jozy Altidore who slightly mishit his finish but still found the net to make it 3-0.

With the game seemingly out of reach, Carl Robinson withdrew Cristian Techera and Alphonso Davies for Brek Shea and Nicolas Mezquida.

The substitutes had barely made their way onto the pitch when the ‘Caps conceded another corner. From Giovinco’s delivery, no one picked up Altidore’s run and he easily met the cross and dispatched it past Marinovic to complete his hat trick.

With a half hour to go though, there was the slightest glimmer of impractical hope, as Kei Kamara broke past TFC’s line after winning a ball back near the halfway line and combining with Mezquida. With his last act of the evening, Kamara finished at the near post past Irwin and made way for Erik Hurtado.

As the second half wore on, Toronto played some really slick passing moves that the Whitecaps just had no answer for. Delgado and Osorio continued to turn players and make one touch passes to open teammates up with ease, and the Reds controlled the middle of the park.

Yet the fight continued, Erik Hurtado turned his man inside out down the right hand side before cutting the ball back across the net. Irwin misplayed it and Brek Shea managed to poke it home from close range. 4-2.

Even with the hope of getting back into the game, the Whitecaps completely switched off from a set piece only moments later. Waston, Henry and Ghazal were all in the box, and close enough to try and stop Tosaint Ricketts, but the Canadian forward won the header almost unchallenged.

Credit to Hurtado, he kept coming even after the fifth goal went in, showing his trademark energy and work rate while attacking the back line. Maybe he read the comparison piece between himself and Blondell earlier, and decided to show he had what it takes to contribute beyond just goals? He even tried another impressive volley from a Brek Shea cross, but was unlucky as his effort went straight at Clint Irwin.

In the end, it was unquestionably a disappointing result, especially after heading into the match knowing the game could go either way. Instead though, the Whitecaps were runners-up for a ninth time in the Voyageurs Cup.