Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.
It’s wedding season, and the Vancouver Whitecaps are damned if they’re going to be bridesmaids again.
The Whitecaps booked their ticket to the Canadian Championship final for the first time since 2018 on Wednesday at BC Place, taking out Canadian Premier League side York United 2-1.
No other team has more runners-up finishes than Vancouver, who have made the final eight times but winning just eleven — in 2015.
Brian White’s first career Canadian Championship goal looked like it was going to be enough to send Vancouver through to the final, which will be hosted at BC Place on the final week of July.
But it was his second, coming off a cross from Ryan Gauld in the 74th minute, that stood up as the winner as York made it close late.
In the 85th minute, Isaiah Johnston put Jake Nerwinski on his back and the ball in the back of the net to pull within one, but they couldn’t find the equalizer.
Here’s what we learned…
BY THE NUMBERS
1: The number of shots on target York had in the first half. As expected, the Caps dominated the defensively minded visitors from the start, holding a 13-2 shots advantage through the opening 45. They finished with a 17-7 (6-3) edge.
60: The possession advantage for Vancouver. The Caps have yet to do that in a regular season game this season.
9: The number of Canadians started by the club formerly known as York9. The Whitecaps started the Canadian Championship required three — Russell Teibert, Lucas Cavallini and Ryan Raposo — with most of their other domestic players injured and unable to play. Tosaint Ricketts was the only other national outfield player in the 18, and came on in the 77th minute for White.
It took until the 53rd minute for the scoreless deadlock to be broken.
Ryan Gauld’s diagonal switch found Ryan Raposo, who chested the pass in the air, and hit a volley that deflected off the chest of Chrisnovic N’Sa. The ball curled towards the top corner, forcing Niko Giantsopolous to make a diving save, but White was on the doorstep to tuck the ball away.
York had only surrendered seven goals in the regular season, and won both of its Canadian Championship matches on penalty kicks. But the GTA team had only scored five goals in the CPL this year.
In the other Voyageurs Cup semifinal, Toronto booked their ticket to the title game with a 4-0 win over CF Montreal at BMO Field.
Ayo Akinola had a brace and Jesus Jimenez and Alejandro Pozuelo added singles for Toronto.
TFC has a chance to win two Canadian Championships in a single year, having won the rescheduled 2020 crown two weeks ago in Hamilton. That year’s tournament was postponed because of the pandemic, and Toronto earned its record-setting eighth Voyageurs Cup with 1-1 (5-4 in penalties) victory over Forge FC at Tim Hortons Field.
In the latest CPL transfer abroad, York United have sold left back Diyaeddine Abzi to Pau FC in France’s Ligue 2. The deal closed on Wednesday, but Pau agreed to wait until after Wednesday’s Canadian Championship game to complete the transfer.
The 23-year-old Abzi, born in Morocco but raised in Montreal, was York’s first signing in February of 2019 and has been a key piece of their squad, leaving the club as the all-time appearances leader. He was rated one of the CPL’s top five players in 2019.
Abzi, who was part of Canada’s U23 side at the 2021 Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament, made 74 appearances for York, scoring eight goals and adding nine assists in over 6,000 minutes played.
He had York’s best scoring chance of the day, curling a low free kick around the wall from 20 yards out that force Cody Cropper to make a difficult save.
BACK TO REALITY
The Whitecaps return to league play in four days with a Sunday afternoon date against the New England Revolution at BC Place (5 pm, TSN, AM730).
The Revs are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 6-5-5 record. The eighth-place Whitecaps could potentially go above the playoff line with a positive result, as they’re currently tied on points with seventh-place Seattle.
The Whitecaps are 2-5-3 all-time against New England, with the last game coming in July 2019. The last game at BC Place was in 2018, which ended in a 3-3 draw.