Vancouver Whitecaps took a huge step towards claiming their first Champions League spot last night with a dominant 1-0 home victory over Montreal.
A cracking strike from Ethan Gage from the edge of the box after 67 minutes was the deciding goal of the game. It was good to see Gage get his first goal for the Whitecaps seniors, having come up through the ranks of the residency programme.
The goal eased Caps worries, having missed a penalty after 52 minutes. Well, we say 52 minutes but it was three minutes before Charles Gbeke got to take his spot kick after Montreal arguing and blatant time wasting from Montreal goalie Matt Jordan.
Jordan should have been booked for his delay of the game but the referee bottled what would have been a second yellow card for the goalie and as things often pan out in such circumstances, Jordan saved the penalty when it was eventually able to be taken.
A red card or not, it still doesn’t detract from a woeful spot kick by Gbeke – the second such horrendous penalty in the last two home games.
That miss could still prove to be costly for the Caps as qualification for the Champions League group stages could still go down to goal difference.
At the moment, the Caps are sitting plus 2, the same as Toronto, but with more goals scored. With other qualification factors taken into account, a 1-0 win for the Caps against Toronto next Tuesday would leave TFC needing a 3-0 win against Montreal in their final match, which would not be beyond them considering the Impact’s current form.
Next Tuesday is arguably the biggest game for the Caps in many a year, even more so than the USL Championship games I’d argue as it can propel the Caps onto a bigger, worldwide stage.
Tuesday can’t come quick enough for me right now.