Michael Bradley (pictured) celebrates after scoring in Toronto FC's 2-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps in an Amway Canadian Championship semifinal, first leg match on May 7, 2014, at BMO Field. (Photo: Paul Giamou/TorontoFC)
TORONTO – Toronto FC got a goal apiece from major off-season signings Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley to defeat the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 on Wednesday before 22,591 fans at BMO Field in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal series.
Defoe netted in the first half, while Bradley made it 2-0 in the 89th minute. A strike two minutes into second-half stoppage time by substitute Kekuta Manneh gave Vancouver a valuable away goal.
The Whitecaps went with a youthful line-up, including four players making their first-team debut: goalkeeper Marco Carducci (17-years-old), defender Bryce Alderson (20), plus midfielders Marco Bustos (18) and Kianz Froese (18).
Toronto went ahead 1-0 in the 28th minute, when Gilberto slipped a perfectly placed through ball to Defoe, who beat the offside trap to slot past Carducci from the left side of the box.
Bradley doubled Toronto’s advantage in the 89th minute after picking up a pass from Defoe and firing beyond Carducci inside the left post with a right-footed shot from 10-yards out.
Just before the final whistle, a deflected Nicolas Mezquida cross landed at Manneh’s feet nine yards from the goal and the 19-year-old Gambian slammed it home.
The sides will meet in the second leg on May 14 at BC Place.
The Amway Canadian Championship is being played for the seventh time and is the country’s qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF Champions League.
EDMONTON, Canada – FC Edmonton rallied to post a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact in their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal opener on Wednesday.
The host is now unbeaten in the three competition games, including a draw (0-0) and a win (3-1) over the Ottawa Fury in the preliminary round.
The Impact took a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute as forward Jack McInerney headed a left-sided free kick by Patrice Bernier past goalkeeper John Smits from just outside the six-yard-box.
Four minutes later, Tomi Ameobi leveled for Edmonton, slotting Hanson Boakai’s inch-perfect pass beyond goalkeeper Evan Bush from seven-yards out.
The Eddies struck for the game-winning goal in stoppage time thanks to forward Michael Nonni, who beat Bush to a misplaced backheader inside the box and capably netted with his second touch.
The series will conclude on May 14 at Stade Saputo in Montreal.