VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 19: Eric Hassli #29 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Nana Attakora #3 of the Toronto FC battle for the ball during their match March 19, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Nutrilite Canadian Championship, Leg 2: Match Moved Back To July 2

Lightning forces second leg to be replayed in its entirety, erasing Vancouver's 2-1 lead over Toronto

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Nutrilite Canadian Championship: Vancouver Whitecaps Foiled By Bureaucrats - 86 Forever

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vancouver Whitecaps fans feel as though a massive injustice was done on Wednesday when their team was leading the Nutrilite Canadian Championship 2-1 on aggregate. Their team had scored an away goal and appeared poised to grab a CONCACAF Champions League spot.

But 86 Forever, SB Nation's Vancouver Whitecaps blog, sees something a little more sinister. He sees a bit of a tilted field that is in favor of Toronto FC and blames the CSA for failing to even that out:

There are only two things the Canadian Soccer Association could do wrong. One would be to imperil the lives of fans or players, which luckily didn't happen. The other would be to declare that an hour-old game which Vancouver was leading didn't count. That the entire premise of soccer, "the team which scores more goals is the winner", doesn't apply. While Toronto FC's field staff sat around with their thumbs up their butts rather than roll tarps over the field or bust or bust our the squeegees, and while Toronto FC's head coach turned to the cameras just before the match was 70% completed and declared that it was unplayable, the CSA directly intervened to, very possibly, change the outcome of the national championship which they pretend to hold in such high regard.


Nutrilite Canadian Championship: CSA Made Right Call To Reschedule - Waking The Red

With lightning striking near the stadium, rain coming down in buckets and BMO Field quickly becoming unplayable, it's probably not all that shocking that Wednesday's Nutrilite Canadian Championship was, at least, suspended. Waking the Red, SB Nation's Toronto FC blog, actually believes the Canadian Soccer Association did the only reasonably thing by abandoning the match:

Anyone thinking rationally can agree that calling the game off was the right decision, and rescheduling for July 2nd was probably also a good choice, the clubs involved and the CSA making the best of a tough situation. The decision to completely restart the game is obviously a bit more contentious. As a TFC supporter, I'm not going to pretend I'm not chuckling about Eric Hassli's goal being wiped off or that I wouldn't be bitching if it happened the other way round. It's definitely unlucky, maybe even unfair, I can certainly see where the anger comes from, but the rules (agred to by all sides beforehand) are the rules.


Nutrilite Canadian Championship: Leg 2 Pushed Back To July 2

Leg 2 of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship has been pushed back to July 2 after it was originally abandoned on Wednesday and rescheduled for the next day. The match will be replayed in its entirety, despite the fact that the Vancouver Whitecaps led the aggregate-goal series 2-1 over Toronto FC when the May 25 match was called off due to "unplayable conditions."

The replay had originally been scheduled for the following day in accordance with NCC rules, but officials were still not satisfied with the conditions at BMO Field. Lightning had been striking near the field on Wednesday, but the heavy rain appears to have been the cause of the abandonment.

Wednesday's match began with the score tied 1-1 on aggregate, but with TFC holding the advantage because of their away goal. But Eric Hassli's strike in the 14th minute gave the advantage to the Whitecaps, one that has now been erased from tournament records.


Nutrilite Canadian Championship: Lightning Erases Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Lead Over Toronto FC

The Vancouver Whitecaps were about 30 minutes away from winning the Nutrilite Canadian Championship and earning a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, but their 2-1 lead over Toronto FC was erased on Wednesday when the match was abandoned because of "unplayable conditions." The game will instead be replayed in its entirety, per NCC rules. It is currently scheduled to be played on Thursday at 11 a.m. EST, but it's unclear if the field will be deemed playable by then. 

Understandably, Whitecaps officials were less than happy with the decision to abandon the match. Paul Barber, the club's CEO seemed a bit incredulous.

"I’ve never seen anything quite like this in the 16 years that I’ve been involved in professional soccer," he said. "It’s an unprecedented situation tonight.

"We’re not happy about it. We were 1-0 up away from home after 59 minutes and were in a very commanding position in a cup final, but rules are rules. From our point of view, we were playing well and we wanted to finish this match; from Toronto’s point of view, obviously it’s a different perspective. At the end of the day it’s irrelevant."

The Whitecaps, won entered the match tied 1-1, took the lead on a 17th minute goal from Eric Hassli. His shot from 25 yards out deflected off Toronto FC's Julian de Guzman.


Nutrilite Canadian Championship, Leg 2: Toronto FC Looking Good

Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps may head into Wednesday's second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship tied, but that doesn't mean they are even. Maicon Santos' 73rd minute goal in last week's first leg gave the Reds the all important away goal, meaning the Whitecaps will have to score at least one of their own to have a chance at advancing.

Previewing the second leg are Benjamin Massey of  86 Forever and Duncan Fletcher of  Waking the Red:

What went right/wrong in Leg 1?

Waking the Red: What went right? Well TFC scored a goal, and somehow, I'm not entirely sure how, avoided letting in more than one. Nick Soolsma had a great game on the right wing, and that's really about it. What went wrong? Jacob Peterson and Tony Tchani both left the game with injuries in the first half, and from there on it was almost all Vancouver. Fatigue and a defensive substitution meant TFC spent the last 15 minutes basically inviting the Whitecaps to attack them.

86 Forever: Finishing. Finishing finishing finishing. The Vancouver Whitecaps had so many glorious scoring opportunities you could have made a highlight reel out of it. If the team stopped smashing crossbars and hitting shots from in close wide and holding the ball for a second too long, they'd have won that game by two or three goals and we'd be planning a parade route. Instead, the Whitecaps head into Toronto at a heavy disadvantage thanks to TFC's away goal and will need their best game of the season to take the trophy home.

Bigger deal: Qualifying for CCL or beating a rival?

Waking the Red: Qualifying for the qualifying round of the CCL is important and would provide a welcome distraction to what looks like being a long MLS season. But the biggest thing is definitely beating a rival, with the slight wrinkle that that rival is all of Canada, with Montreal more important than Vancouver to TFC fans. The Voyageur's Cup and being Canadian champion again are what this is really all about.

86 Forever: I think both Toronto and Vancouver fans would agree that the trophy is the main thing. Neither the Whitecaps nor TFC view each other as their main rivals: Toronto reserves more dislike for Montreal and Columbus while Vancouver is of course embroiled in the legendary Cascadia Cup. There's no doubt that getting a victory over Toronto is a little sweeter for a Whitecaps fan than beating FC Edmonton would have been. But if the Whitecaps do pull it out, we'll be celebrating the Voyageurs Cup, not a victory over Toronto.

What's it going to take to advance?

Waking the Red: A good start, and I think TFC should be ok in that regard, They have a more consistent lineup now which has been able to start games off solidly. A good finish, and that could be a problem, fatigue is playing a part and the last few games have seen TFC wither and barely hang on at the end. Aside from that, a moment of individual inspiration up front, the system as a whole is more solid defensively, but there's not a lot of consistent pressure and the offence has come form counter attacks or wing play form the likes of Joao Plata and Nick Soolsma.

86 Forever: A magnificent effort and a minor miracle. The Vancouver Whitecaps threw everything they had at Toronto last Wednesday and got an (unlucky) draw. They'll be playing in front of the famous BMO Field crowd, which isn't what it used to be but is still one of the most intimidating away environments in MLS. Toronto played a pretty good defensive game in Colorado and their form seems to be improving week on week. The Whitecaps have one road win this season: the previous round of the Voyageurs Cup against a Montreal Impact team that's getting walloped in the NASL this season. This is a very bad position to be in.

Who's the player that most determines the outcome?

Waking the RedStefan Frei. 0-0 would be good enough for TFC so a clean sheet for Frei is all TFC need. Whether that happens or not, he's always a busy busy man, and will definitely be called upon at some stage to make an important stop or two. The TFC defence will definitely bend, that's just what it does, if Frei can stop it from breaking too often, TFC should have enough to win.

86 Forever: The Whitecaps need scoring, and that means they need Davide Chiumiento. Chiumiento has been the straw that stirs the drink in most of Vancouver's best efforts this season, but his inconsistency has also doomed Vancouver to their share of dropped points. Which Chiumiento will show up? In a must-win game against a rival on natural grass, Chiumiento might be at his best: weaving between defenders, setting up glorious opportunities, and constantly leaving Toronto off-balance. Or playing out of his preferred position in a tournament he's almost unfamiliar with, Chiumiento might not care: drifting aimlessly up and down the wing, doing no work to get the ball, and farting around with it aimlessly when he does receive it. A lot will hang on what Dede does.

Probable lineups

Toronto FC: Frei; Eckersley, Williams, Cann, Gargan; De Guzman; Yourassowsky, Stevanovic; Soolsma, Santos, Plata.

Whitecaps: Nolly; Leathers - DeMerit - Janicki - Rochat; Salinas - Koffie - Dunfield - Chiumiento; Hassli - Camilo

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