Whitecaps eager to right last year's wrong in Canadian Championship
Vancouver will host Impact in 1st leg of semis on Tuesday
The Vancouver Whitecaps are eager to right last year's wrong in the Canadian Championship.
The club was moments away from lifting the national title for a second straight campaign when Toronto FC snatched a late goal after a defensive miscue to stun the Whitecaps and win the two-game, aggregate final in dramatic fashion.
"We threw it away," said Vancouver head coach Robinson. "It was heartbreaking."
The Whitecaps have a chance to start making amends in the 2017 tournament on Tuesday night when the Montreal Impact visit B.C. Place Stadium for the first leg of their semifinal. The second leg will be played May 30 in Montreal.
Both clubs are coming off impressive wins in Major League Soccer over the weekend, with the Whitecaps downing Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City 2-0, and Montreal thumping the Portland Timbers 4-1.
Vancouver is 5-5-1 in MLS action so far this season, good for sixth in the West, while Montreal's 3-4-4 mark has the Impact sitting 10th in the East.
"Obviously getting a win [Saturday] does a lot for our confidence," Montreal head coach Mauro Biello said before flying to Vancouver. "We're slowly trying to find our form. It's been a bit bumpy, but the Canadian Cup is important."
Not standing pat
After playing the same lineup and formation for five straight matches, Vancouver will be switching things up against the Impact with the Whitecaps in the midst of a busy stretch of games.
"I'll rest some guys, there's no secret there," said Robinson. "Players will get opportunities to play.
"When you get your opportunity, I just suggest you take it."
Teams are required to start at least three Canadians in this year's tournament, which sees Toronto FC visit the Ottawa Fury of the second-tier USL in the first leg of the other semifinal.
The winner of the Canadian title has qualified directly to the CONCACAF Champions League in years past. But a change to that tournament's format starting in 2018 means Toronto will have to either capture the national crown again or beat the 2017 winner in a one-game playoff at BMO Field in August to qualify.
In terms of homegrown flavour, the Whitecaps could go with the likes of midfielders Russell Teibert and 16-year-old Alphonso Davies — a permanent resident in the process of getting his Canadian citizenship — on Tuesday, while the Impact might counter with goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and midfielder David Choiniere.
"It's difficult this year," said Biello. "We have the travel to Vancouver and it's on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, one day less.
"There will be changes. We're going there to try to get a result that will give us a chance to win it in the second leg."
While some Canadian players from the Whitecaps' USL feeder team could also see action, it's safe to assume a couple regulars will be sprinkled into the starting 11, with midfielder Matias Laba among those included in the Whitecaps' 23-man roster after picking up a yellow card against Sporting that rules him out of Vancouver's next MLS match.
Meanwhile, Impact striker Dominic Oduro didn't play Saturday and should be fresh if called upon.
The Impact won the tournament in 2013 and 2014, while the Whitecaps claimed their first national title in 2015 before Toronto's improbable victory last year.