Vancouver Whitecaps 1, FC Edmonton 1 | Canadian Championship Match Recap
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver Whitecaps gave up what could prove to be a vital away goal, and were made to work extremely hard by NASL side FC Edmonton, before finally coming away with a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal at BC Place on Wednesday.
A Gershon Koffie goal three minutes from timed spared Vancouver’s blushes after Tomi Ameobi scored for the Eddies just four minutes in.
The whole dynamic of the tie had already changed for Vancouver after last week’s snow out in Edmonton had forced the Whitecaps to now host the first leg of the semifinal and it didn’t take long for it to change even further for them.
Any home advantage that still remained for the MLS side was extinguished just four minutes in when Koffie was put under pressure by Ritchie Jones following a mistake and Ameobi took the ball off his feet and fired past 'Caps goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi for the opening goal.
The Whitecaps were stunned and their night got even worse when Homegrown defender Sam Adekugbe had to limp out in the 16th minute after he apparently strained his right ankle.
Edmonton were then happy to sit back and try and hit on the counter, untroubled by a Vancouver side who couldn’t find the telling final ball and were reduced to long range attempts.
It was four minutes into the second half before Vancouver forced their first save out of Matt VanOekel, when the Edmonton ‘keeper stood tall to keep out an Erik Hurtado effort.
VanOekel did well again in the 57th minute, pulling off a point-blank stop from Darren Mattocks to keep his side ahead as Vancouver turned up the pressure.
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Hurtado squandered a golden opportunity to draw the ‘Caps level in the 66th minute when he found himself free in front of goal after a Mattocks header had played him in, but the young striker decided to hit the ball first time and it flew wildly wide.
But just when it looked liked all of Vancouver’s pressure and possession would count for nothing, Koffie, who was the ‘Caps captain on the night, made up for his earlier mistake by showing some nice footwork in the box, making room to fire home the equaliser in the 87th minute.
Vancouver now face a crucial second leg in Edmonton next Wednesday. With a spot in the Canadian Championship final against the Montreal Impact in August on the line, they have to score at least once on the road to clinch it.