Second-half substitute Sebastien Le Toux’s pair of late goals Wednesday gave the Vancouver Whitecaps a 3-1 comeback victory over FC Edmonton and a ticket to the Amway Canadian Championship soccer final.
The Whitecaps took the two-game series 5-1 on aggregate.
Vancouver will meet Toronto FC in the Canadian final, which will be another two-leg, total-goals series. Vancouver will host the first leg May 16, and Toronto have home-field advantage in the second game.
Toronto qualified earlier Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact.
Le Toux scored the winner in the 87th minute as headed in a Davide Chiumiento free kick from the left sideline to cap Vancouver’s rally from a 1-0 deficit before a crowd of 15,011 at BC Place. The winning goal came moments after Vancouver’s Etienne Barbara was denied on a penalty kick as his shot hit Edmonton goalkeeper David Monsalve’s hand and the post.
Darren Mattocks added an insurance goal in added time on a cross from Chiumiento, who assisted on all of Vancouver’s goals.
Yashir Pinto scored for Edmonton as all of the goals came in the second half.
The Canadian champions will advance to the CONCACAF Champions League and face the top teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean in a bid to qualify for the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
The Whitecaps went mainly with reserves in midfield and on defence as several regulars watched the game in street clothes. Coach Martin Rennie scratched three of his top-four defenders. Only captain Jay DeMerit started on the back row after he did not make the trip to Edmonton for the first leg.
Michael Nanchoff, making his first start of the season, appeared to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead just two and a half minutes into the match as he slid and footed in John Thorrington’s rolling cross off a wide Camilo corner kick. However, the goal was disallowed on an offside call.
The Whitecaps had some early chances, but Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton, making his first start at home, had to record the tougher stops. He dove to bat Matt Lam’s shot away following a quick counter-attack in the 27th minute.
Edmonton’s Fabien Vorbe was yellow-carded in the 33rd minute for taking down Nanchoff on a through ball from Chiumiento. On the ensuing free kick, Camilo lofted the ball over Edmonton’s defensive wall but wide of the net.
Chiumiento, starting just his second game in the last five, was dangerous almost every time he touched the ball in the first half. But the Whitecaps had trouble getting it to him as Edmonton forced several turnovers in midfield and the unfamiliar back line struggled to generate much push.
With scoring chances at either end rare, tempers flared near half-time. In the 41st minute, Edmonton defender Paul Hamilton was cautioned for pulling on Camilo from behind. The Brazilian striker embellished the foul by falling backward dramatically.
A minute later, Vancouver’s Thorrington received a yellow card for a hard tackle on Michael Cox near the sideline at midfield. Moments later, Cox took a yellow card for sliding into Knighton as he made a save. Knight was hurt on the play and lay prone on the field for several moments before he was assisted by Vancouver’s medical staff, but the goalkeeper stayed in the game.
Disciplinary issues continued early in the second half as Edmonton captain Chris Kooy was cautioned for pulling down Camilo.
Pinto headed in Antonio Rago’s cross in the 54th minute after the ball bounced off Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell.
In the 67th minute, Edmonton’s Lam shot just wide of the post. Then two minutes later, Knighton had to race to boot a slow back pass away from a charging Pinto.
Vancouver coach Rennie attempted to inject some offence in the 70th minute as he substituted Le Toux in for for Nanchoff and then put in Mattocks for striker Eric Hassli in the 74th.
A minute later, Le Toux’s insertion paid dividends as he took a long, high lead from Chiumiento, sidestepped Forbe – who then fell – and drove a shot past Monsalve.
Barbara was awarded a penalty kick after Hamilton was called for fouling him near the Edmonton end line within the 18-yard box. Hamilton got his hand on him, but barely touched Barbara as he went down.
Just when it looked like the Whitecaps would have to settle for a draw, Le Toux scored the winner.
Mattocks then booted in Chiumiento’s backward cross from the right side. After the goal, Mattocks jumped over advertising signage, high-fived the crowd and took a Jamaican flag from a supporter and waved it briefly.
He received a yellow card for excessive celebration – but none of the Whitecaps or their supporters were complaining.
Notes: Whitecaps defender Alain Rochat did not dress. He was rested after seeing action in the past two games following recovery from a knee injury that forced him to miss five. ... Barbara, who had yet to play this season because of a groin injury, dressed for his first MLS game. He saw his first action, replacing Camilo in the 85th minute. So did Mattocks, who had missed every game thus far due to arm and shoulder burns suffered in a cooking accident. ... Edmonton defender Paul Hamilton, who played at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., had several friends and supporters on hand. ... Scottish midfielder Barry Robson, due to join the Whitecaps this summer, has concluded his season with Middlesbrough of the English Premier League. But he can’t suit up for the Whitecaps until the North American secondary transfer window opens June 27.