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  • Report and Reaction: Young guns give Vancouver great chance to make Canadian Championship final


    <i>*** Match report and post game reaction from Vancouver Whitecaps' 2-1 loss to Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship semi final first leg, with quotes from Carl Robinson, Marco Carducci and Kianz Froese. ***</i>


    ccs-123494-140264022449_thumb.jpgIt was a risky strategy. Vancouver Whitecaps were going with youth, Residency talent and a 17-year-old keeper. Toronto were going more with experience and some high salaried big names.

    Risky, but worth it as far as Carl Robinson was concerned in terms of player development. His players didn't let his belief down and held firm for most of the game, going down 2-1.

    Toronto's two Designated Players did the damage for the home side with Jermain Defoe opening the scoring in the 28th minute and Michael Bradley scoring a second with a minute left in normal time. TFC may have felt the job was done but the story was only just beginning with Kekuta Manneh's stoppage time counter now giving Vancouver a crucial away goal and a great chance to reach the final in next week's second leg.


    It was all change in the Whitecaps starting eleven from Saturday’s MLS win over San Jose. Eleven changes and three teenagers, including two unsigned Residency players, was the make-up, with 29-year-old Nigel Reo-Coker being the veteran of the team. He hadn’t played a competitive minute since March 22nd and was playing in the unfamiliar right back role that he may be seeing a lot more of in the next few weeks.

    With a bye week coming up this weekend, Toronto fielded eight of the starting eleven that lost at home to New England on Saturday, including Designated Players Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, and a further two that had come on as subs.

    David v Goliath? Sure. But a great Cup tie in the making in true FA Cup giantkilling tradition. Just how I like them. Would the Whitecaps' young guns compete or would Toronto kill off the tie well before the second leg and be able to rest players for the return in Vancouver next week?

    The giant may not have been slayed but Vancouver did inflict what could yet be some lasting damage.

    Toronto were looking for an early breakthrough and put Vancouver under the cosh in the opening minutes.

    Defoe had the first chance of the match three minutes in, but his goalbound effort was deflected by Carlyle Mitchell for a corner. TFC kept the pressure on and Steven Caldwell met the resultant set piece and his header was flicked on by Reo-Coker before being cleared off the line by Marco Bustos.

    There was almost a scare for Vancouver in the 11th minute when Gilberto chased down a long ball and Caps keeper Marco Carducci came flying out of his box. The two time Canadian U17 Player of the Year never looked like getting to it first and missed his attempted kick, but he did enough to put the Brazilian off and Mitchell cleared the danger.

    TFC came close again on the 21 minute mark when Gilberto flashed a header wide after getting on the end of a Issey Nakajima-Farran cross.

    Vancouver hadn't been too troubled but the home side gave the impression that they could do the damage any minute and the breakthrough eventually came in the 28th minute when Defoe beat the offside trap to latch onto a Gilberto through ball and easily slotted home past Carducci.

    Defoe had an opportunity to add to his and Toronto's tally five minutes later but Carducci stood tall and kept him out at his near post with a fine save.

    It was pretty much one way TFC traffic and Mark Bloom, who was a late addition to the starting line up after Nick Hagglund was a scratch, hit a cross-come-shot past the left post.

    Vancouver finished the half strongly and had a couple of chances to equalise in the 43rd minute.

    Russell Teibert played two give and gos with Kianz Froese before taking a touch in the box and firing a shot off the onrushing Joe Bendik in the TFC goal. The rebound broke to Nicolas Mezquida but his effort was cleared off the line by Doneil Henry.

    The half time whistle came and despite the home side's dominance, Vancouver will have gone into the break relatively happy with how the half played out and hoping to have a go and nick something in the second, or at the very least keep it tight for the second leg.

    Toronto continued to dominate play but were doing very little with it and the Whitecaps defence was relatively unthreatened for the opening period of the second half.

    TFC had a penalty appeal waved away just past the hour mark when Gilberto's header hit the tucked in arms of Mezquida, but the referee wasn't interested.

    The Whitecaps made the first change of the match shortly after, bringing on the recently recalled loanee Omar Salgado, as they hoped to try and get something going for the closing stages.

    Bryce Alderson had a low long range shot easily held by Bendik at the midway point of the half and Nakajima-Farran headed just past the right post moments later for TFC.

    The Caps broke quickly with 15 minutes remaining and Salgado nearly gave himself a dream return with two efforts which Bendik did well to keep out. The first was an acrobatic save from a shot from just outside the box but the rebound fell to Mezquida who played the ball back to Salgado and the young striker's dipping effort was tipped over by the TFC keeper from under his own crossbar.

    The Caps sensed they could get something from the game and Robinson made a double substitution in the 77th minute, bringing on Kekuta Manneh and Sebastian Fernandez.

    Vancouver were now making a match of it and Toronto were looking to their expensive summer signings to try and grab a second.

    Michael Bradley had been quiet all night but the TFC DP went on a strong run with ten minutes remaining but was dispossessed before he could get off a shot. Moment later, Defoe had a half chance which he pulled wide.

    Teibert hit a long range shot for Vancouver, which was easily held by Bendik, but the game was finishing as an end to end affair.

    Just when it was looking like it would be a one goal game, Defoe played in Bradley in the 89th minute and the US international got the better of Johnny Leveron and hit it across Carducci and into the bottom left corner.

    But that wasn't to be the end of the action and it did indeed finish a one goal game.

    The Caps kept pushing and two minutes into stoppage time the ball broke to an unmarked Manneh 12 yards out the Gambian left Bendik flatfooted to fire home a crucial away goal for Vancouver.

    As Manneh tried to get the ball back he got into a scuffle with Bendik and soon other players got involved setting the scene for what could be a fiery second leg.

    It was a fantastic performance from the young Caps. They may have had to soak up a lot of pressure but their second half performance certainly merited the faith that Carl Robinson had put in them.

    FINAL SCORE: Toronto FC 2 - 1 Vancouver Whitecaps

    TORONTO: Joe Bendik, Mark Bloom, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow, Alvaro Rey, Kyle Bekker, Michael Bradley, Issey Nakajima-Farran (Dwayne De Rosario 79), Jermain Defoe, Gilberto [subs Not Used: Julio Cesar, Bradley Orr, Nick Hagglund, Ashtone Morgan, Ryan Richter, Andrew Wiedeman]

    VANCOUVER: Marco Carducci; Nigel Reo-Coker, Carlyle Mitchell, Johnny Leverón, Christian Dean; Bryce Alderson, Russell Teibert, Kianz Froese (Sebastian Fernandez 77), Nicolas Mezquida, Marco Bustos (Omar Salgado 64); Erik Hurtado (Kekuta Manneh 77) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Haynes, Mitch Piraux, Jackson Farmer]


    <b>Carl Robinson on fighting till the end:</b>

    "I think you’ve seen in the first nine games on the Major League Soccer season that we don’t give up. We’ve installed a culture into the team and that is credit to the players because we have a never say die attitude. I think we deserved something at the end of the game, I really did, based off the second half performance."

    <b>Carl Robinson on young players:</b>

    "Froese played very well and that’s credit to him. I saw the kid play last year as an assistant coach and I wanted to give him the chance. Because how do you find out when they are ready? You find out when they are ready when you give them the opportunity. I am delighted they played a strong team because that is the level we need to learn. You see Michael Bradley’s running power in the 89th minute and you see Jermaine Defoe’s finishing in the first half."

    <b>Carl Robinson on conceding late second goal:</b>

    "I was a bit frustrated and disappointed because we conceded such a late goal and sometimes there is nothing you can do during a moment of brilliance. Michael Bradley’s finish was brilliant, it really was, and in the 89th minute to be still doing that obviously shows the level of his fitness and his desire to go and play in the World Cup."

    <b>Carl Robinson on Kekuta Manneh's late counter:</b>

    "I was very happy with a little bit of magic by the kid Kekuta at the end which makes it an exciting second leg next week."

    <b>Carl Robinson on Marco Bustos:</b>

    [On Team 1410] "Great, talented player. [He] Understands the game. He was winning free kicks, he was causing the right back a lot of problems."

    <b>Carl Robinson on Kianz Froese:</b>

    [On Team 1410] "I think Kianz was a little bit special today, I have to say. I think he came of age and that's easy to say for a 17 year old, but he grew in stature and in front of the Canadian national team manager, Benito was here."

    <b>Carl Robinson on Omar Salgado:</b>

    [On Team 1410] "I'm about giving young players chances. I'm not going back on my word to any young player and Omar is in that category. He didn't let anyone down."

    <b>Marco Carducci on his first start:</b>

    "It’s a dream and that was always my goal, and then obviously tonight was a great experience for me now looking back on it already, super excited. The result of the game, getting that away goal at the end is really important for us. I think next Wednesday is another great test and I’m looking forward to that now."

    <b>Marco Carducci on whether he felt nervous as the game kicked off:</b>

    "Yes, for sure. The situation, the stage, and the players we were up against but once we got through that, with the support of the team of course. Full credit to everyone in front of me especially the back four I thought were magnificent just helping me through. After the first 15 or 20 minutes or so, I felt like I settled in a bit more and just got into the flow."

    <b>Kianz Froese on his first professional start</b>

    "I was happy to get the opportunity to play with a great group of guys, with my friends. It was nice to just get on the field and have an opportunity to be on the field."

    <b>Kianz Froese on his performance</b>

    "I thought I did well. There is always space for improvement."

    <b>Kianz Froese on next week's second leg</b>

    "Hopefully go out and be calm, have a general good performance by everybody and hopefully we can take it at home."

    <b>Kianz Froese on the state of Canadian soccer</b>

    "I think it’s improving. Obviously Benito (Floro) is doing a good job with us and he is laying down how we want to play. I think we are just moving forward and progressing."


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