Jul 24, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; The Cavalry FC celebrate the win over the Vancouver Whitecaps during the second half at BC Place Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
SANDOR: 5 unforgettable moments from the 2019 CanChamp
For a tournament with a relatively short history, the Canadian Championship really has over-delivered when it comes to drama.
A leg-breaking last-gasp winner. Controversy in the 97th minute. Wonder strikes. Thunderstorm delays. Heartbreak and, of course, joy.
So where does 2019’s edition rank? It’s the biggest Canadian Championship yet, thanks to the addition of the Canadian Premier League. But, it’s always dangerous to call something the “best ever” minutes or hours or even days after it’s complete. It takes time for us to really assess where a single tournament ranks in history.
But, that won’t stop us from identifying five unforgettable moments from 2019.
TFC On the Spot
BMO Field. Toronto FC. Penalty shootouts. Put these all together, and you have some of the most tragic chapters in the Reds’ history book.
Sure, Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio both hit the woodwork. But, from the penalty spot, hitting the post or the bar is simply a miss. It looks spectacular, sure, but it shouldn’t be considered unlucky.
Toronto FC is like the exact opposite of the German national side when it comes to penalty shootouts. It’s got to the point where the other team might be able to start celebrating when the ref blows the whistle and indicates that it’s time for the teams to nominate their five shooters each.
But, after a missed handball call on Auro denied the Impact a second-half penalty that could have presented the visitors with a tie-killing road goal, you can’t argue that the result was anything but just.
The Canadian MLS sides have often rotated their squads for the Cup matches, balancing the demands of their league schedules with their commitments to the domestic championship. But, Whitecaps’ coach Marc Dos Santos named about as strong as side as he could for both legs of their quarterfinal encounter with Cavalry. The Whitecaps started off brightly in leg one, but couldn’t find a goal. In leg two, the ‘Caps conceded early off a Jordan Brown. And, even though the Cavalry surrendered an equalizer, with the road goal in hand the Cavs still had the advantage.
But, fittingly, it was on a corner kick, which has been a Cavs’ strength all season long, where coach Tommy Wheeldon’s men got the goal that put the tie out of reach, a Dominick Zator header. And when that ball hit the back of the net, CPL history and Canadian Championship history was made.
I have been to Canadian Championship games at BMO Field and BC Place. I’ve seen the Impact play at home in the CONCACAF Champions League.
But, in terms of atmosphere, the fans at Spruce Meadows really made a Cup night in Calgary a special, special thing — unique in Canadian soccer. When Cavalry walked out, and an entire stadium belted out “Caval-RY, Caval-RY, Caval-RY,” the goosebumps were soon to follow. The crowd was boisterous throughout, urging on every chance, cat-calling at every whistle. It was everything you could have hoped for in this very unique venue.
One of the reasons Cup nights are so special is because of the atmosphere that comes with a winner-take-all affair. And in an era where Cup games are often met with lukewarm receptions in MLS venues, Cavalry reminded us what a midweek game is supposed to feel like.
What followed was a mad sequence which saw both teams combine for three goals in about 10 minutes and the game end in a 2-2 draw. Rodrigo Gattas’s clever long ball set Ryan Telfer up for a rocket of a finish in the 82nd, then Gattas made it 2-1 for the home side off a corner. But, in time added on, a needless foul from goalkeeper Nathan Ingham led to a penalty that allowed the Impact to level the score. And there was still another twist; right before the final whistle, Joseph Di Chiara’s effort to give York9 the win came off the bar when it looked like it was easier to score.
It was end-to-end, breathless stuff.
Seeding? What Seeding?
Canada Soccer made the decision to allow three CPL teams — Forge FC, Valour FC and FC Edmonton – to enter the tournament in the second round, while the other four CPL teams had to start playing in the first.