SPORTS

Whitecaps beat Edmonton 3-1 to advance to finals against Toronto FC

05/10/2012 01:23 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Sebastien Le Toux made the most of his few minutes on the pitch Wednesday night.

The second-half substitute scored two late goals 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.

"I had to come in to help the team, and I was ready," Le Toux said. "It's good for me and it's good for the team. I'm just happy that we have a final to play now."

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 he 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 way we finished the game was excellent," said Vancouver coach Martin Rennie after his club posted its fifth straight win. "We showed a lot of energy and hunger to win the game."

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.

"(Chiumiento) had three fantastic passes today — one assist in the air for my head, which I never really use any time," said Le Toux.

Le Toux, Mattocks and Barbara turned the game around for the Major League Soccer club after Edmonton, which plays in the lower-tier North American Soccer League, prevented the Whitecaps from generating much offensively.

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.

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 John 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 Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton as he made a save. Knighton 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.

"He came and stepped up," said Knighton. "I was surprised that he didn't get kicked out."

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.

Vancouver coach Rennie attempted to inject some offence in the 70th minute as he substituted Le Toux in 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 ball 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 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.

MORE:cpSports