It’s a little hard to believe, but the Whitecaps are on a good run of form. All of the pieces are coming together for the team from Vancouver and hope is slowly coming in that this season may not be a throwaway after all. The Canadian Championship is always a good test of one’s skills, especially now with strong opposition in the Canadian Premier League teams. The Whitecaps have been shaky at best for most of recent memory, with very few things to keep the fans entertained, (Arguably with Davies being the last star attraction for the team) and sub par performances through rotating managers have made people lose faith in the team’s ability to perform at an MLS level. This was a point of stress for the Whitecaps, who looked below their competition within the league, and until this year, below the level of the CPL. Luckily, Vanni Sartini has straightened the ship and Vancouver has looked increasingly impressive as the rounds went on. This was no different when the Whitecaps took on York United from the CPL in the semi-finals of the Canadian Cup.
In a round where many thought that a rematch of last year’s Pacific FC fixture was in order, York United shocked the Canadian soccer world by taking down the reigning CPL champions in the quarterfinal stage of the tournament. This seems like it would set up a closely contested affair, but beyond the scoreline this game was anything but. The Whitecaps had domination of the game from the first whistle as they vastly outshot and outpossesed the team from Ontario. There was a fire from the Whitecaps in the first half that isn’t usually there as they searched to make the first move of the match and eventually they struck first in the second half by 2021 talisman Brian White. They then were able to take their foot off the gas and allowed York a little bit more possession and shots, which did lead to a scramble in the box but mostly just lead to York chasing after the Whitecaps players. Not my particular cup of tea when the team isn’t quite ready to be an assertive team, but it seemed to work in the end, as White helped himself to a second goal of the night around the seventy fourth minute.
Cubas looks to be a hit for Vancouver, as he has impressed in his few appearances so far for the team. The quality in midfield is improving, although I was pretty certain that when the Paraguayan was signed that would be the end of Teibert starting every game. I’m yet to be proven right but not to complain too much if it’s doing what needs to be done. One area that does need improvement is the defense though, as the lack of natural centrebacks continues to plague Vancouver. Deep into the second half, Nerwinski was put into a spin cycle by Isaiah Johnston as York was able to pull one back and hope was renewed for the team from Ontario. For a couple of minutes there, it looked like the Whitecaps defense was going to collapse, but the team held on strong and were able to hold their one goal lead.
As much optimism as this victory may bring for the Whitecaps, the fact that Toronto beat their MLS competition 4-0 and are awaiting for big name Lorenzo Insigne to arrive has to be running through the minds of the players and coach. Putting that out of sight for the final will be key, although it may be a challenge as more Toronto players return from injury and continue to build up the dominant Canadian machine. It’s hard to get your hopes up sometimes, but the Whitecaps have proven us wrong time and time again, so let’s hope they have a moment of magic and get some continental football.