York United’s memorable 2022 Canadian Championship run came to an end Wednesday night at BC Place, as they fell 2-1 in a narrowly-contested semifinal against MLS outfit Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who punched their ticket to the final.
The Whitecaps, looking for their first berth in the final since 2018, did not hold back with their starting XI, as coach Vanni Sartini deployed all three of his current Designated Players — Lucas Cavallini, Ryan Gauld, and Andres Cubas — in his lineup for the first time. York, meanwhile, entered with a similar team to recent weeks, based largely on player availability, as Max Ferrari continued on the right side and a fresh Cédric Toussaint (who was suspended in the CPL last weekend) slotted into midfield.
As one might expect from the favoured MLS side, Vancouver opened the match on the front foot, controlling possession in the opening stages and threatening York with a few well-delivered set-piece chances. The Whitecaps also produced a golden opportunity just before the half-hour mark, as Lucas Cavallini beat York’s offside trap and came in alone on goal, but Niko Giantsopoulos made a tremendous kick save to deny the Canadian international.
York’s greatest threat in the second half came about 40 minutes into the contest, with a run of four consecutive corner kicks, but despite dangerous deliveries into the box the ball didn’t quite fall to the right spots for York to finish. So, both sides emerged from the opening stanza unscathed, with the score 0-0 at the break.
The match came alive a little more in the second half; York actually began on the front foot, buzzing around the Whitecaps’ penalty area for the first five minutes or so, but they weren’t able to turn the extra possession into a dangerous chance on goal. Not long after, though, the hosts were the ones who at last found the net.
Wingback Cristian Dajome brought the ball down on the right side of the penalty area and played it across to the left, and Ryan Raposo sent an attempt that caromed off the goalpost (possibly directed there by a Giantsopoulos save). American striker Brian White was waiting in the six-yard box, though, and he made no mistake with the finish to put the Whitecaps up 1-0.
Whitecaps boss Sartini turned to his bench soon after scoring, introducing Déiber Caicedo and Luís Martins in place of Cavallini and Raposo.
The Nine Stripes came achingly close to a goal near the 60-minute mark, winning a free kick just outside the ‘Caps box. Diyaeddine Abzi took the set-piece, as his low left-footed strike tricked the wall and needed a very good diving save from Cody Cropper.
Eventually, though, it was White again who struck the final blow to York’s hopes of advancing. In the 74th minute, he made a deceptive run into the box and found himself in the right spot to flick a cross out of the air and into the net.
Not content to roll over down 2-0, though, York did find a way back into the tie in the closing stages. Mouhamadou Kane, having entered as a substitute, played a tricky ball into Isaiah Johnston at the top of the box, and Johnston danced to his right around a defender before placing a low shot that beat Cody Cropper and made it 2-1.
The visiting CPL side were not able to find the second goal they needed, though, and ultimately their Canadian Championship dream came to an end, as the Whitecaps advance to the final where they’ll meet Toronto FC, hoping to hoist their first Voyageurs Cup since 2015.
53′ — Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps FC) 74′ — Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
84′ — Isaiah Johnston (York United)