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Toronto tie sets up must-win finale
by Ridge Mahoney, July 10th, 2008 7AM



The first Nutrilite Championship, a three-team playoff that will decide Canada's representative in the CONCACAF Champions League, is going down to the final game.

Toronto tied Vancouver, 2-2, at Swangard Stadium Wednesday night to leave both teams tied with four points behind group leader Montreal (2-1-0, 6 points). The Whitecaps, though, have finished their four games with a 1-2-1 record in the double round-robin competition and so are eliminated, since only the group winner qualifies for the CONCACAF preliminary round.

Toronto (1-1-1) must win the tournament finale against Montreal July 22 at BMO Field to advance. It opened the tournament May 27 by beating the Impact, 1-0, on the road, but lost to the Whitecaps, 1-0, at BMO Field last week, and last night squandered a 2-1 lead after rallying from a 1-0 deficit with goals by Maurice Edu and Rohan Ricketts.

Eduardo Sebrango, a former Impact player, scored three minutes before the end of each half. He scored from a Justin Moose pass in the 42nd minute, and equalized in the 87th after pouncing on a weak Edu header and rounding keeper Greg Sutton to slot the ball home.

Edu tied the game, 1-1, in the 61st minute when he polished off a chance created by Jeff Cunningham's run down the right flank. Cunningham cut back a diagonal ball that Laurent Robert stabbed toward the net and Edu lashed it past Vancouver goalie Jay Nolly, who'd been the hero last week by pulling off several excellent saves, including one on a penalty kick, as Toronto lost at home for the first time since last September.

Rohan Ricketts, played into space by Amado Guevara, beat Nolly to the near post to give Toronto a 2-1 lead in the 74th minute, but Vancouver's persistence paid off when Nolly's long goal kick was flicked on and Edu's misplay presented Sebrango with a chance he clinically converted.

Forward Danny Dichio, who is suffering from concussion symptoms, didn't make the trip to Vancouver, and ankle problems kept TFC defenders Todd Dunivant and Olivier Tebily at home.

The Canadian representative will play a two-game series against Nicaraguan club Real Esteli, which clinched its place Wednesday night by beating Walter Ferreti, 1-0, in the second leg and going through by that score on aggregate. Elmer Mejia scored the only goal of the series with five minutes left in extra time to send Real Estelí into the preliminary round, which includes MLS teams Chivas USA and New England.

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