[MLS] Many MLS coaches use non-league competitions to groom backups and younger players, but that attitude is not shared by Canadian teams when it comes to their national championship.
Both Vancouver and Toronto rested several starters for their league encounter Wednesday at BMO Field, which TFC won, 1-0, with a Nick Soolsma penalty kick early in the second half. Soolsma drew a foul from Greg Janicki in the penalty area, and took the penalty himself as well as a re-kick ordered by referee Mark Geiger for encroachment.
The teams play again Saturday at the same venue in the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship; it is the makeup of a game played May 26, when a lightning storm stopped play in the 60th minute with the score 0-0. Vancouver and Toronto tied, 1-1, in the first leg at Empire Field.
Omar Salgado started as a lone forward for the Whitecaps as head coach Tom Soehn elected to leave Designated Player Eric Hassli on the bench. Hassli came on at halftime, yet other regulars, such as defender Jay DeMerit, were not named to the game-day roster. DP midfielder Julian de Guzman was among those not fielded by TFC head coach Aron Winter.
After Soolsma’s goal -- his first in league play -- Camilo set up a chance for Salgado to equalize, but the U.S. youth international shot narrowly wide. Camilo was another sub; he replaced Russell Teibert in the 58th minute and provided Salgado that opportunity a few minutes later.
TFC, which lost 4-2 at Vancouver in the Whitecaps' MLS debut March 19, improved its record to 3-7-9 and jumped from last in the Eastern Conference into a tie for fifth. Vancouver (2-8-8) is at the bottom of the Western Conference.
The winner of the NCC title takes Canada’s spot in the 2011-12 Concacaf Champions’ League competition. It will start in the preliminary phase with a two-game series against Real Esteli of Nicaragua beginning in late July.