Whitecaps lose first leg of Amway semis
Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe (18) tries to block a pass by Vancouver Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell (24) in the Canadian Championship semi final game at BMO Field. Toronto defeated Vancouver 2-1, May 7, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sport)
When Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said earlier this week that he was going to field a young squad, he wasn't kidding.
In the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals on Wednesday, the Whitecaps started a raw and inexperienced group — and it showed. But despite the disadvantage, the visiting 'Caps managed to keep their Canadian foes in check, falling 2-1 at BMO Field.
The second leg shifts back to Vancouver next Wednesday.
The Whitecaps had eight Canadians dressed, with five in the starting lineup — among those, four of them were making their team debut, including 17-year-old goalkeeper Marco Carducci. Meanwhile, TFC had all three of their designated players in the starting lineup.
But Toronto missed on many of their opportunities, while the Whitecaps held their own to keep the hosts to just one tally through most of the match.
There were nervous moments from the start, including a Toronto shot that was cleared off the line by Marco Bustos before the Reds struck in the 28th minute. Striker Jermain Defoe eluded the Whitecaps’ offside trap to walk in and calmly score past Carducci to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Vancouver had a glorious opportunity to equalize in the 43rd minute when Russell Teibert was stopped by goalkeeper Joe Bendik, before Nicolas Mezquida's shot off the rebound was cleared on the line by Doneil Henry.
Omar Salgado, who came in as a substitute in the second half, also had a couple of good chances for the Whitecaps.
Toronto added the dagger in the 90th minute on a Michael Bradley finish. That wasn't the end of it.
Kekuta Manneh scored an all-important road goal for Vancouver in injury time — which then led to a heated exchange between the two sides that had to be defused.