All's Well That Ends Well, A Tale of Missed Chances

With Toronto trailing Vancouver by exactly one point and having two games in hand, Wednesday night's encounter had added importance. 

At this point, neither side can reasonably expect to catch Seattle on its march towards the Supporters' Shield. With the draw, Vancouver has 16 matches to make up 12 points. 

Toronto has it a little better, with 18 matches to make up 13 points. But games in hand isn't always a blessing. They have three more games to play over the same period of time thanks to a friendly with Tottenham Hotspur FC later this month.

And that would have been even worse had they won the CSA Cup. But, alas, it was Montreal who won the right to represent Canada in the 2014 CONCACAF Champions League and earned themselves at least four additional fixtures.

Which brings us back to why tonight's match had added meaning. As we reported back in March (CSA Cup to become "more of a Canadian Showcase"), the league table will decide who represents Canada in the 2015 edition of the Champions League. The CSA Cup will still be played next year, but it will be pushed back to after the Gold Cup, and the winner will qualify for the 2016 Champions League.

  Darren Mattocks always knew he'd score three goals this season, even back in 2012 when he was training at the Burnaby Lake Complex.

Darren Mattocks always knew he'd score three goals this season, even back in 2012 when he was training at the Burnaby Lake Complex.

As this was an all-Canadian affair, it was only right that some of them featured in the match. Russell Teibert and Sam Adekugbe were brought in for Vancouver, the latter being a forced decision after Jordan Harvey's straight red last week. Doneil Henry and Jonathan Osorio started for the home side.

The first half was a cagey affair, with neither side willing to concede ground. As is the case in MLS, the refereeing was not without controversy as towards the end of the half, Kekuta Manneh had control of the ball, was fouled, and somehow, Toronto was awarded a free kick. Sadly, we've become accustomed to such decisions. 

The most interesting moment came in the 41st minute, when Michael Bradley got on the other end of an Erik Hurtado clearance. The six million dollar man passed off to English striker Luke Moore, who sent it towards the bottom right hand corner.

David Ousted was able to make the safe, placing the ball between his glove and the pitch. Jermaine Defoe kicked the ball out of his hand and into the back of the net, sending a shiver down the Vancouver supporters everywhere.

We saw this last week, and it didn't work for us. Fortunately, it didn't work for Toronto either. One can only imagine the public backlash that the league would have endured had two such similar plays ended in such disparate results.

Curiously, the call was not for kicking the ball out of David Ousted's hands, but instead, because Defoe was in an off-side position when the initial shot was taken. He gained an advantage standing in an offside position, and the goal was called back.

 Michael Bradley was one of three Designated Players Toronto employed against the Whitecaps on Wednesday.

Michael Bradley was one of three Designated Players Toronto employed against the Whitecaps on Wednesday.

Two minutes into the second half, Matías Laba got a heel on the ball, leading to Moore tumbling, and somehow winning himself a free kick on the edge of the box. Fortunately, nothing came of it. 

In the 50th minute, Adekugbe managed to take out Osorio, so while the ball moved towards the Whitecaps end, by the time it was intercepted by Johnny Leverón, Osorio was still on his back, freeing up space for Morales to move the ball up the middle.

The Chilean passed it off to Teibert, who found Darren Mattocks sitting just in front of the penalty spot, and the Jamaican converted the cross into his third goal of the season, and his first since a 2-2 draw with Los Angeles back in April. 

In the 53rd minute, Toronto had a penalty appeal as the ball appeared to strike Carlyle Mitchell's hand in the box. Referee Allen Chapman immediately dismissed the appeal, and signalled for a corner kick as the ball went off Mitchell's hand, but not until after it had already struck him in the shoulder.

Ten minutes later, they would get their penalty kick. With Mitchell battling with Jackson, Nigel Reo-Coker came in to help, but he missed his step, falling backwards as he impeded Jackson's movement. And while Jackson was technically moving away from goal, he did have control of the ball, and he was fouled, and it was right of Chapman to award Toronto the penalty kick.

Ousted guessed wrong, and Jermain Defoe scored his 12th goal for Toronto, with 11 of them coming in the league, and one in the cup.

 As beautiful as the Stadium is on a day like this, there were far too many empty seats on Wednesday.

As beautiful as the Stadium is on a day like this, there were far too many empty seats on Wednesday.

In the 70th minute, with Gershon Koffie ready to be brought on for Reo-Coker, Nigel clipped Henry who bravely won the ball. It was a late tackle, though it was unfortunate for the Englishman, as he seemed to clip Henry after Henry's follow-through of winning the ball. He was given a yellow card, and Koffie immediately replaced him.

There were chances, some very good chances for both sides. This game was there for the taking, but neither side managed it. In the end, a stalemate was probably a fair result. Toronto held a narrow lead in possession, and shots on target, but Vancouver led the way in blocked shots and clearances made.

Next, Vancouver head to Salt Lake, where Jordan Harvey will be expected to make a return to the starting eleven after serving his one-game suspension. In his stead, Sam Adekugbe acquitted himself well, though he did pick up a yellow card late in the game. Were the Caps next opponent someone other than Real, he might have kept his place on the back of this performance.