Disaster struck for the Vancouver Whitecaps allowing Toronto FC a 2-2 draw in Wednesday’s opening game of the Canadian Championship final.
Vancouver defender Doneil Henry headed a ball into his own net late in extra time to give Toronto the tie. Henry was trying to clear a shot by Toronto’s Justin Morrow. Vancouver goaltender Stefan Marinovic laid on the field for several minutes after the goal.
It was a shocking end for the Whitecaps who looked to have the game in hand after second-half substitute Erik Hurtado gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead in the 84th minute.
With the match tied 1-1, and Vancouver playing a man short, midfielder Russell Teibert fed a long pass to Hurtado, who had got behind the Toronto defence. He settled the ball down, then took a low shot that beat Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio and Vancouver striker Kei Kamara had exchanged first-half goals less than two minutes apart.
The Whitecaps were forced to play with 10 men when midfielder Felipe was shown a red card in the 46th minute following a tackle on Toronto’s Marco Delgado. That produced a loud chorus of boos from the crowd of 16,833 at BC Place Stadium.
The second game of the two-match, total-goal series will be played Wednesday at BMO Field in Toronto.
Besides claiming the Voyageurs Cup, the winner earns a place in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League and an opportunity to win a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The Whitecaps opened the scoring in the 24th minute after Toronto forward Tosaint Ricketts was called for a hand ball in the box off a Cristian Techera corner kick. Kamara calmly put the ball into the upper left-hand corner.
Vancouver had little time to celebrate before Toronto answered. Delgado, slicing down the left wing, swung a pass into the box that Osorio blasted home.
Whitecaps winger Alphonso Davies had a strong game, setting up several good chances. In the 73rd minute he raced down the field and fired a shot that Irwin stopped with a diving save. Irwin also blocked midfielder Yordy Reyna on a free kick from outside the box in the 79th minute.
The early stages of the game saw the Whitecaps content to play defence while Toronto prodded for the important away goal. Both defender Ashtone Morgan and forward Jozy Altidore had shots that Stefan Marinovic easily handled. In the 19th minute Altidore headed a ball just past the corner of the net.
The Whitecaps had a good chance in the 16th minute when Techera’s rising, left-footed shot from distance went through the goalkeeper’s hands and bounced off the cross bar. Just a few minutes before being sent off Felipe was open in the box but hit the side of the net.
This is the seventh time the Whitecaps have reached the championship final, but their only victory was in 2015. Defending champion Toronto has won six times.