May 8, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT
Toronto was minutes away from a potentially decisive 2-0 win over visiting Vancouver, a result that would have given the four-time Canadian champions a lead Ryan Nelsen could sit on next week in British Columbia. Thanks to more Kekuta Manneh dramatics, however, the Whitecaps were able to get back into the teams’ tie minutes before the final whistle. Beating Joe Bednik in the 92nd minute, the 19-year-old attacker cut the Reds’ lead in half, leaving TFC up 2-1 after the first leg of the clubs’ Canadian Championship semifinal.
The teams’ second leg will take place next Wednesday at BC Place, with the winner going on to face the victor of Montreal’s semifinal with the NASL’s FC Edmonton. Thanks to a late second half goal from Michael Nonni, the second division club registered its own 2-1 victory on Wednesday, with leg two scheduled for Stade Saputo next week.
Toronto took a 28th minute lead on Vancouver through Jermaine Defoe, who finished from the left of Marco Carducci’s area to register his first goal since March. The Reds held that one-goal lead until the 89th minute when Michael Bradley beat Carducci with a low shot far post for a 2-0 lead. Manneh’s away goal, however, means the Whitecaps would go through with a 1-0 win next Wednesday in Vancouver.
In Alberta, Edmonton took their first division foes to halftime scoreless before a Jack McInerney header broke through for the Impact in the 56th minute. Edmonton responded quickly, getting an equalizer from Tomi Ameobi on the hour. One minute into stoppage time, Nonni took advantage of a failed Karl Ouimetter back pass to give the NASL side a first leg win.
The winner of the Canadian Championship earns a spot in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League, with the two-legged final to take place May 28 and June 4. Montreal, the defending champion, is the only club beside Toronto to even win the seven-year-old competition.
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