Whitecaps celebrate long-awaited Canadian Championship title

After many years of disappointment, Vancouver finally claimed the Voyageurs Cup after a professional second-leg performance over Montreal Impact.
VANCOUVER – It was a long time coming. Whether you go back to 2002 when the Voyageurs Cup was founded or 2008 when the Canadian Championship came into existence, it was a trophy that eluded the grasp of Vancouver Whitecaps FC. That was until Wednesday night.

After so many heartbreaking, if not bizarre, moments that has seen the Blue and White miss out on the title, the Whitecaps ended their long wait for the Voyageurs Cup with a convincing 2-0 second-leg win over holders Montreal Impact at BC Place for a 4-2 aggregate success - the club’s first-ever Canadian Championship crown.

Victory not only gives Vancouver the title of Canadian champion, but also Canada’s berth in the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League, with the ’Caps already involved in the current edition of the confederation’s top club competition.

It proved a night a celebration for all associated with the Whitecaps, not least head coach Carl Robinson, who spoke emotionally of what Wednesday’s win meant to him.

“If I’m being honest, it’s about my father,” Robinson said of his thoughts after the game. “18 months ago when I took the job, I lost a big part of my life and I said I would enjoy myself and do everything to make him proud of me. I miss my Dad, I really do, so I’m a little bit sad, but don’t take away from how important this trophy is for the club.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the group of players who love it to bits, and it’s about the club. The club has never won it. It’s for them tonight, so I’m delighted for every single one involved with the club.”

The second leg was well poised after a 2-2 first-leg draw in Montreal, but Robinson made his intentions known by playing near full-strength line-up on Wednesday night.

It saw Vancouver carry the majority of the play and draw Montreal into giving away several fouls, with a key turning point being the sending off of Impact defender Victor Cabrera for a second bookable offense on the half-hour mark. Soon after, Octavio Rivero gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 halftime lead before Tim Parker headed home early in the second half to seal victory.

“I challenged them,” Robinson said of his players. “I said to them that these games don’t come around too often. We’re at home in front of our 20,000 fans. It’s in our court. Time to step up.

“They’ve certainly done that. Each and every single one of them. What a professional performance that was. I’m so bloody proud of them today, I really am.”

The lone Canadian on the pitch to start the match was ‘Caps midfielder Russell Teibert, who claimed the George Gross Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The 22-year-old was naturally overjoyed that the Voyageurs Cup was finally in Vancouver’s hands.

“It’s hard to put into words,” said the Niagara Falls, Ontario, native. “I’ve been through too many heartbreaks with this tournament. Disappointment for our fans, disappointment for us, so it’s about damn time we won it. We’ve got the rest of the season to play for, so this is the first of many for us this year.”

The game proved to be a quiet one for ‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted, as Montreal failed to register a shot on target in the second leg. With the fan-based Cascadia Cup still to be decided, plus plenty to play for in MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, the Danish shot-stopper sees this triumph as the first of many for Vancouver.

“I think the silverware is going to give us confidence going forward,” Ousted said. “It is going to make us hungry to try and win a couple more trophies. Let’s see where we get to, but I think we are going in the right direction.”