Whitecaps poised for cup run as Canadian championship kicks off

CapsTFC (Reuters Pictures)

After three consecutive years of finishing as runner-up to Toronto FC in the Canadian championship, 2012 could finally be the Vancouver Whitecaps' year to claim the Voyageurs Cup.

Considering Toronto FC's struggles and Vancouver's rise to respectability after a trying MLS expansion season, the Whitecaps are the favorites entering this year's Canadian championship, which commences Wednesday night.

With a berth in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League looming as the final prize, the two-legged semifinals kick off with Toronto taking on the Montreal Impact and Vancouver meeting upstart NASL foe FC Edmonton.

For more on the Canadian tournament that has been traditionally dominated by TFC, check out Fox Soccer's preview.

Here is a closer look at the opening-round matchups:

TORONTO FC vs. MONTREAL IMPACT

First Leg: Wednesday, 8 p.m., Olympic Stadium

Second Leg: May 9, 8 p.m., BMO Field

Breakdown: Toronto FC need this. Badly. After an 0-7-0 start in league play and a devastating loss to Real Salt Lake over the weekend, Toronto can save some face by resuming its dominance in this tournament. In order to do that, the desperate Reds will have to avoid a repeat of what happened not even a month ago, when they went to Olympic Stadium and became the Impact's first MLS victim in a 2-1 defeat.

Montreal has started to find its groove over the last few weeks, playing D.C. United to a road draw and defeating the Portland Timbers at home. The two teams and rivals appear headed in opposite directions, but all of that can change with a single result in Montreal, and to their credit, Toronto FC players and coaches appear to be feeling confident despite the rocky start to 2012.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. FC EDMONTON

First Leg: Wednesday, 10 p.m., Commonwealth Stadium

Second Leg: May 9, 11 p.m., BC Place

Breakdown: FC Edmonton is backstopped by CONCACAF Under-23 championship standout and Canadian international Michal Misiewiscz, but he'll need to be at his best to shut down Vancouver's multi-pronged attack. 

Vancouver, 4-2-2 in league play, won't be at full strength after reportedly leaving Jay DeMerit, Camilo and Young-Pyo Lee behind so they will be rested for this weekend's big MLS match against San Jose. Even so, it would be a shock for FC Edmonton, which is off to an NASL-worst 0-3-1 start, to pull off the upset. One of the players Vancouver will need to key in on is Chilean U-20 standout Yashir Pinto, who has set up two of FCE's three goals in limited time this season.

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Who do you see winning the Canadian championship? Do you think Toronto FC still has what it takes to make a run at the title? Think it's Vancouver's year?

Share your thoughts below.

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17 Responses to Whitecaps poised for cup run as Canadian championship kicks off

  1. Cookie says:

    BFD. Nobody cares about soccer in Canadia….they are the step-child of MLS.

  2. NE Matt says:

    Hey calm down. It’s a slow morning in the soccer world. Things will pick up this afternoon with all the games that Yanks Abroad are in.

    Until then we can always speculate on what team Clint Dempsey will transfer to this summer!

  3. Dimidri says:

    Right, that’s why they have 3 teams with superb attendance despite poor results(minus a above-average Vancouver team), owners who are more willing to splash money than every team in MLS but LA And New York, and people like USMNT cult hero(no negative connotation implied) saying soccer in Canada is a bigger deal than it is in the US. Things like CL per-capita viewing actually show that is likely the case.

  4. Dimidri says:

    USMNT Cult hero Jay DeMerit*

  5. James says:

    The order of my preference for the Canadian CCL birth:

    1. Vancouver – Probably the best team

    2. Montreal – the MLS expansion team underdog

    3. Edmonton – the true minor league Cinderella

    4. Toronto – bizarre I place them last because of the run they had in 2011 CCL. However, let’s face it they were bad in MLS last year and they are horrible this year. I don’t need to see them back in the CCL.

  6. theraccoun says:

    Hey man I don’t live in Canada but I dig Candian teams. TFC and Whitecaps two of my fav teams in MLS. WAs really hoping TFC would be a lot better this year

  7. Old School says:

    I think it’s absolutely ridiculous a Champions League birth is awarded from this overly glorified 4, yes, only 4 team tournament.

    Perhaps if there, say, double the amount of clubs involved I could struggle to to find some validity in it.

    After all, US Open Cup has 64 clubs, if I’m not mistaken?

    Am I looking at this from some jaded viewpoint?

  8. Dimidri says:

    Yes. With the exception of the Welsh teams in England and countries that are some of the smallest in the world like Monaco, every country gets represented in their continental championships. Luxembourg does not have its own league but FC Vaduz participates in the Swiss League so they have their own cup competition(with other Liechtensteinian teams) to determine European slots. Canada as a country is awarded one birth, the same guarantee that every nation in CONCACAF gets, many of which have not that many more teams than Canada has. Surely you think Vancouver is better than Barbados’ finest?

  9. Dimidri says:

    Oh also-the alternative to Canada getting a CL bid isn’t 5 bids for MLS seeing as Mexico which is a superior league get’s 4. 4 is the max for a country. Should Canadian teams ever get good(and VAN And MON probably will) this will be of great use to MLS having 5 teams.

  10. Shane says:

    they’re pretty much only competing with hockey and when the two go head to head, their fans dont show up

  11. BAJ says:

    Ottawa will be joining this tourney in 1-2 years. Building a 24,000 seat stadium as well.

  12. EAscott says:

    Yeah, you have to like the support the Canadian teams get – it’s good for MLS. Also glad this competition adds another MLS team in the CCL…

  13. Soro says:

    The Caps drew 16K when head-to-head against a Canucks playoff game earlier this year. Better than most teams in the league.

  14. sam says:

    Clicking on the comments I was thinking of an over/under in my head of the number of snarky american comments there were going to be.

    Of course there’s a blatant hypocrisy to it. American soccer fans are always crying out for attention and respect from dismissive europeans and eurosnobs looking down their noses at the US national team and calling MLS a joke. Yet when the shoe’s on the other foot it’s apparently fair game to act just as much of a snob to others below you in the pecking order.

  15. Ed says:

    Are these on TV in the states anywhere? Direct Kick? MDL? Or are we illegally streaming?

  16. Charles says:

    People, don’t confuse Cookie with facts that contradict his simple comments.

  17. Air Jordanz says:

    Go Whitecaps! I’m a Dynamo fan, but I’ve liked Vancouver since day 1. Love the kits, love the squad, and would prefer for the best team in Canada (which starts 0 Canucks but 2 U.S. internationals) to rep MLS with that CCL berth.