As Will Johnson’s shot looped over the helpless Vancouver Whitecaps FC defenders in the dying moments Wednesday night, another Amway Canadian Championship was coming to a thrilling conclusion.
There are still just five teams as the professional game in Canada develops but with the Voyageurs Cup at stake it's becoming one of the more riveting events year after year in the Canadian soccer calendar.
“To do it that way, is amazing,” said midfielder Jonathan Osorio in a Toronto FC video after taking a victorious bite at the medal around his neck. “If we could have scripted it, we would not do it that way. We would have ended it much earlier.”
This year alone, Vancouver had to overhaul a two-goal deficit from the first leg to get past the Ottawa Fury FC of the NASL in the semifinals. Ottawa also had a thrilling preliminary-round series with FC Edmonton where the Fury opened up a three-goal cushion in the first leg before Edmonton roared back in Ottawa with two goals on the road in the second leg to make things close.
Last year, Vancouver beat Montreal in the final but barely got past Edmonton in the semis, winning 3-2 on aggregate with a spectacular second leg that featured three goals in second half stoppage time.
In the other semi in 2015, former TFC forward Dominic Oduro burned his old team with an 84th-minute goal in the second leg to tie the aggregate score at 3-3 but giving Montreal the win on the away-goals rule.
It’s a competition that still is second fiddle to the MLS or NASL regular seasons but the emotion on players’ faces when they hoist the Voyageurs Cup speaks volumes and the growth of this tournament will benefit the development of a professional soccer culture in Canada. And until that potential Canadian pro league comes online, this remains the only all-Canadian pro soccer competition.
No update on Johnson’s status from TFC
Joy and agony combined on Will Johnson’s face seconds after scoring the decisive goal in Wednesday night’s Amway Canadian Championship final.
Johnson, the beneficiary of the mistake between David Ousted and Kendall Waston, writhed in agony as teammates celebrated his goal. He had taken the victorious shot then immediately tumbled over Ousted to the pitch, grabbing his left knee in a worrying sight.
On Thursday morning, a Toronto FC spokesperson said there was no update on the midfielder’s status.
Whenever a player grabs a knee in that manner on a harder surface like the turf at BC Place, it’s not impossible to immediately think of the worst possible outcome which, when it’s a knee issue, could mean a long time out.
Johnson will be an important player for Canada’s World Cup qualifiers in September if healthy and Canadian fans should hope it’s nothing serious.
Edgar would immediately help Whitecaps FC
The time may finally be right for David Edgar to come back and play in his home country.
Edgar, out of contract after his deal with Birmingham City came to an end, is training with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, according to Marc Weber of The Province newspaper out of Vancouver, and he may be in the right place at the right time.
Vancouver’s need for reliable central defenders was highlighted Wednesday night when Kendall Waston was central to the error that allowed Will Johnson to score the goal that delivered Toronto FC’s first Canadian Championship since 2012.
Waston has two red cards for Vancouver this season, including a bizarre incident where he scythed down Portland’s Dairon Asprilla after the full-time whistle had gone. Waston argued he didn’t hear the whistle but it would have been a sending off even if it were in a normal game situation.
Enter Edgar, who is a central defender by trade but is versatile and is in the Canadian national team pool as a midfielder. He would bring experience and consistency to a Vancouver backline that has conceded a Western Conference-worst 29 goals through 17 MLS games.