If there is one team in Canada that knows how to be composed in penalty shootouts, it’s Ryan Nelsen’s Toronto FC. The match between Toronto and Carl Robinson’s Vancouver Whitecaps went the distance, but TFC’s spot-kicking prowess won the day and the series. The Reds march on to the final of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship, where they face another team that is equally skilled/clutch/money at spot kicks: the Montreal Impact.
Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings, for the match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC.
1. Oh Henry!
Early on in the first half, Nelsen elected to go all hands on deck for this leg, while Robinson went back to the young talent. Nigel Reo-Coker, who was fighting for minutes on the Caps team, got the start in the midfield. In the fouth minute, Doneil Henry opened up the scoring for Toronto thanks to a looping ball from Michael Bradley. Marco Carducci, to the disappointment of the MLS Multiplex, was given the start over David Ousted in goals for Vancouver. Carducci made a meal of that clearance.
2. Manneh makes a meal of it
A point-blank shot from Kekuta Manneh in the 12th minute was cleared by the aforementioned Doneil Henry. Erik Hurtado’s first shot in the 14th minute was collected by Toronto FC netminder Joe Bendik. Manneh had an easy chance on goal in the 17th minute but missed the sitter wide left. The next several minutes saw the visitors show excellent poise defensively, as the extra pass failed to find someone in white. Carducci did acquit himself in 31st minute with a solid save, but the Whitecaps needed to pick up their end of the bargain.
3. Hurtado puts Vancouver back in hunt
The composure and class that Michael Bradley brings to the Toronto FC midfield is noteworthy to say the least. His quarterbacking skills as the team’s captain helped dictate the pace and tempo against the increasingly-frustrated Whitecaps. Christian Dean won a corner in the 37th minute, which was cleared. On the counter, Issey Nakajima-Ferran was given the “don’t argue” from Reo-Coker.
Erik Hurtado got Vancouver on the board in the 44th minute thanks to a defensive lapse exploted by Pedro Morales. Despite the goal, the Whitecaps still had an uphill mountain to climb going into the break. Morales nearly pulled the aggregate on even terms in the lone minute of first half stoppage time.
Vancouver Whitecaps Toronto FC
8 Attempts on Goal 4
2 Shots on Target 4
3 Shots off Target 0
3 Blocked Shots 0
2 Corner Kicks 1
7 Fouls 10
12 Open Play Crosses 1
2 Offsides 2
1 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
22 Duels Won 24
47% Duels Won % 52%
248 Total Pass 186
87% Passing Accuracy % 82%
57.5% Possession 42.6%
4. Reds defense holding firm
Early on in the second half, Toronto looked to stand tall the rest of the match and prevent further scoring from the Reds. A corner in the 54th minute from Russell Teibert was cleared. A shot from Nicolas Mezquida in the 58th minute was cleared by Ashtone Morgan for a Whitecaps corner that was poorly taken by Morales. Lauded Toronto FC midfielder Gilberto had a chance across the face of goal in the 58th minute of play but could not find anyone to follow through. Henry earned a yellow second later for fouling Mezquida. The ensuing volley from Mezquida was deflected for a couple more corners that were wasted.
5. Vancouver claw back in the lead
Carducci made another big save in the 62nd minute, this time on Gilberto. In the 66th minute, a corner from Bradley was collected by Carducci. Hurtado’s next attempt in the 69th minute was skied over the bar, and a little bit more patience needed to be in order. Manneh was denied by Joe Bendik in the 70th minute on a 1-v-1. Omar Salgado, who came in midway through the second half, missed on the slide in the 72nd minute of play.
At this point in the match, Toronto was easing their way into another meeting with Montreal for a spot in the next CONCACAF Champions League. The object was to continue holding firm in the defensive third for the last 15 anbd stoppage time. But Henry became his own worst enemy in the 84th minute, fouling Hurtado. The following conversion attempt by Morales in the 86th it 2-1 Vancouver, evening the series at 3-3. Bendik guessed the right way but couldn’t get a hand to it.
Bendik again denied Manneh in the 88th minute of play on a breakway. Bendik made another save, this time on Morales, seconds later. Suddenly, this was a wide-open contest with the type of free-flowing play more common in Liga MX, among other leagues. A free kick from Morales in the 90th minute was headed wide left by Manneh. Henry got slammed in the first minute of stoppage time after a collision with Salgado and Bendik. The match would go to extra time and perhaps penalties.
6. Those Reds Win The Hard Way
In the first period of extra time, Toronto FC knew that they needed just one away goal and they would have a massive advantage. A cross from Manneh was headed wide by Hurtado in the 93rd minute. Vancouver kept applying pressure, while Toronto was forced to go on the defensive. Daniel Lovitz, who came into the match in the 64th minute, won a free kick for Bradley in the 100th minute of play which was saved Carducci.
A shot from Salgado in the 102nd minute of play was rushed and collected by Bendik. Osorio’s first big shot on goal went over the bar. Sebastian Fernandez’s first shot in the 104th minute was also collected by Bendik. A corner in the 105th minute for Bradley was collected by Carducci.
In the second extra time period, both teams had all to play for. Once again, it Toronto playing with house money. Fernandez had another blast in the 106th minute but it was as speculative as his previous attempt. De Rosario had an attempt in the 112th minute of play hit the woodwork. Carducci made a big save in the 115th minute on Lovitz, forcing a corner from Bradley that was cleared. Omar Salgado had a would-be winner called back for a handball late in extra time.
And so, the match would go to penalties. For the experienced Joe Bendik and the rookie Marco Carducci, this would be a test to see which respective team’s goalkeeper would put their respective starter on notice. Here is a breakdown of how the penalty shootout went…followed by the rest of this piece.
Bradley Orr…made. Toronto 1-0.
Matias Laba…made. 1-1.
Luke Moore…made. Toronto 2-1.
Kekuta Manneh…saved. Toronto 2-1.
Dwayne De Rosario…made. Toronto 3-1.
Sebastian Fernandez…made. Toronto 3-2.
Michael Bradley…made. Toronto 4-2.
Russell Teibert…made. Toronto 4-3.
Issey Nakajima-Farran…made. Toronto 5-3.
|Vancouver Whitecaps||Toronto FC|
|25||Attempts on Goal||12|
|7||Shots on Target||7|
|9||Shots off Target||5|
|33||Open Play Crosses||8|
|2||First Yellow Cards||4|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|53%||Duels Won %||46%|
|83%||Passing Accuracy %||79%|
Vancouver Whitecaps Player Ratings
Marco Carducci 6, Nigel Reo-Coker 7, Christian Dean 6, Johnny Leveron 7, Carlyle Mitchell 5.5, Matias Laba 6, Kekuta Manneh 6, Bryce Alderson 5, Nicolas Mezquida 6, Russel Teibert 7, Pedro Morales 9, Erik Hurtado 7, Omar Salgado 4.5, Sebastian Fernandez 5
Toronto FC Player Ratings
Joe Bendik 9, Ashtone Morgan 7, Mark Bloom 5.5, Nick Hegglund 6, Bradley Orr 6.5, Doneil Henry 7.5, Michael Bradley 10, Kyle Bekker 6.5, Dwayne De Rosario 5, Daniel Lovitz 6, Issey Nakajima-Ferran 9, Jonathan Osorio 7, Gilberto 4, Luke Moore 5