Will this be the year?
In two weeks’ time, Vancouver Whitecaps FC hope to be lifting their first-ever Voyageurs Cup at BC Place. And the only team left standing in their way is Montreal Impact.
The longtime Canadian rivals kick off the two-leg Amway Canadian Championship Final on Wednesday in Montreal.
Match Day: Wednesday, August 12
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. PT
Venue: Stade Saputo, Montreal
TV: Sportsnet World, Sportsnet.ca (free stream)
Radio: TSN 1410
In addition to lifting the Voyageurs Cup, the winner of this year’s Canadian Championship will qualify for the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League.
Earlier this year, when Carl Robinson was asked about Whitecaps FC’s Canadian Championship drought, the ‘Caps head coach didn’t pull any punches. Robinson said “it hurts” that Whitecaps FC have never won it. And he made it clear that the plan was to change that.
“We want to try and have a go at it this year,” he told reporters.
Robinson’s side passed the first test, defeating FC Edmonton 3-2 on aggregate in the two-leg semifinal back in May. Now, the ‘Caps have their sights set on some silverware.
“Since the beginning of the season, we’ve talked about how we have something special here,” said Kekuta Manneh, who has three assists in his last four games. “But we want to win something with the group we have. So we’re going to put everything in it to try and win this championship.”
“Toronto and Montreal have been winning, so for us this is the first step in making history,” added Pa-Modou Kah. “And we want it a lot.”
As for what kind of lineup we can expect from the ‘Caps, Robinson said “it won’t be the same team” that defeated Real Salt Lake 4-0 on the weekend. But he also said there won’t be 11 changes and that centre back Kendall Waston, who is suspended for Saturday’s MLS match vs. SKC, would play.
In MLS regular season action, the Western Conference-leading ‘Caps have won three straight matches – outscoring their opponents 10-1 in the process.
The Impact are gunning for their third straight Voyageurs Cup and fourth all-time.
After last year’s Canadian Championship triumph, the Eastern Canadian outfit went on a remarkable run to the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League Final before falling defeat to Club America. That defeat is likely still fresh in their minds, which should serve as extra motivation for Frank Klopas’ side.
In league play, the Impact currently occupy the sixth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Their most recent result was a 1-0 loss to D.C. United. Remarkably, Montreal outshot the Eastern Conference-leaders 25-1 but still came out on the losing end.
“They’re creating opportunities, they’ve got a really dangerous core, and Drogba hasn’t even stepped into the lineup,” said Whitecaps FC left back Jordan Harvey. “So it’s going to be a tough game.”
This is the second time Vancouver and Montreal will play for the Voyageurs Cup since both teams joined MLS. In 2013, Montreal hoisted the trophy at BC Place by virtue of the away goals rule.
The Voyageurs Cup will be awarded on August 26 in the second leg at BC Place. The team that scores more combined goals between the two games will be crowned champions. If the combined score is level, then away goals are used as the first tiebreaker.
Tickets for the decisive second leg are still available.