The ‘Caps knew they needed to win by at least three goals – or in a penalty shootout in the event of a 2-0 victory – to keep their Voyageurs Cup title defence alive.
Whitecaps FC defeated Ottawa Fury FC 3-0 in a thrilling second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, securing a 3-2 aggregate victory after falling 2-0 in last week’s first leg.
Designated Players Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero led the way for Vancouver with a combined two goals and three assists between them, while Nicolas Mezquida opened his Canadian Championship account.
Goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi also came up with some key saves and kept the clean sheet as Whitecaps FC secured their berth in the two-leg tournament final vs. Toronto FC later this month.
As promised, Carl Robinson made several changes – eight in total – after going with a younger lineup in last week’s first leg. Only Tornaghi, Mezquida, and centre back Tim Parker started both matches. They were joined by the likes of Morales, Rivero, and Matias Laba, as Robinson pulled out the big guns for this elimination cup match.
He also started 15-year-old WFC2 midfielder Alphonso Davies for the first time with Kekuta Manneh dealing with a minor knock and Christian Bolaños away on international duty. Davies, who impressed as a sub last week, became the youngest player to start a first-team match for Whitecaps FC – and did not look out of place by any means.
The ‘Caps spoke at length this week about rolling up their sleeves and doing everything they could to claw back the two-goal deficit given to Ottawa in the first leg.
That was reflected in the team’s performance.
The ‘Caps came out absolutely flying and opened the scoring in the third minute through a Morales penalty. In the build-up, Laba used the outside of his foot to release Mezquida with a lovely throughball before the Uruguayan was taken down by Rafael Alves.
Less than a minute later, Cristian Techera nearly doubled Vancouver’s lead after a quickly-taken free kick but Fury FC keeper Romuald Peiser rushed off his line to disrupt the play.
Peiser was busy in this one.
In the 20th minute, the reigning NASL goalkeeper of the year came up with back-to-back saves on Mezquida and Laba, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Morales sent in a perfect second-phase cross to Rivero at the back post. Rivero then laid it off to Mezquida, who headed it in from close range to put Whitecaps FC ahead 2-0 and level the aggregate score at 2-2.
It was an action-packed start and the ‘Caps kept coming.
Just before the break, Davies brought the crowd to its feet with some fancy footwork and stepovers into the Fury FC box hitting the far post from a tight angle.
A little later on, the youngster played the ball into Rivero, who just missed the far post with a first-time effort.
Ottawa also had their chances in the first half, forcing Tornaghi into a pair of key saves on strikes from Carl Haworth and Marcel de Jong, but this was Vancouver’s night.
In the 52nd minute, Rivero got Vancouver the all-important third goal with a composed finish in the box after some great control from Morales in midfield.
Rivero hit the bar on a half-volley a little later, but it turns out three goals would be all Vancouver needed. Ottawa pushed forward in the dying stages, but the ‘Caps held firm.
The reigning Canadian champions are still alive.
MOVING ON UP
Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert, who was subbed into the match in the 80th minute, is now tied with former Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Jay Nolly for the most appearances in Amway Canadian Championship history (15).
Budweiser Man of the Match: Octavio Rivero
Referee: Geoff Gamble
3′ – VAN – Pedro Morales (Penalty kick)
20′ – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida (Octavio Rivero, Pedro Morales)
52′ – VAN – Octavio Rivero (Pedro Morales)
Possession: Vancouver 46.8 % – Ottawa 53.2 %
Shots: Vancouver 23 – Ottawa 15
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 8 – Ottawa 4
Saves: Vancouver 4 – Ottawa 5
Fouls: Vancouver 13 – Ottawa 14
Offsides: Vancouver 1 – Ottawa 1
Corners: Vancouver 10 – Ottawa 8
2′ – OTT – Rafael Alves
67′ – VAN – Tim Parker
73′ – OTT – Julian de Guzman
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
70.Paolo Tornaghi; 6.Jordan Smith, 17.Andrew Jacobson, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 77.Pedro Morales ©; 13.Cristian Techera (19.Erik Hurtado 75′), 11.Nicolás Mezquida (31.Russell Teibert 80′), 67.Alphonso Davies (23.Kekuta Manneh 84′); 29.Octavio Rivero
Substitutes not used
1.David Ousted, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 14.Cole Seiler, 38.Kianz Froese
Ottawa Fury FC
1.Romuald Peiser; 25.Lance Rozeboom, 33.Rafael Alves ©, 77.Fernando (Timbo) Sanfelice, 14.Onua Obasi; 22.Jonny Steele, 8.James Bailey; 7.Paulo Junior (23.Idan Vered 74′), 9.Bryan Olivera (6.Julian de Guzman 58′), 30.Marcel de Jong (19.Kyle Porter HT); 17.Carl Haworth
Substitutes not used
24.Marcel DeBellis, 15.Dennis Chin, 20.Mauro Eustaquio