For the first time since 2018, the Vancouver Whitecaps are through to the Canadian Championship final. Here’s how they’re feeling after achieving that feat earlier this week.
A lot has happened since the last time the Vancouver Whitecaps last made a final.
In fact, since they last did so, coming all the way back in 2018 when they lost to Toronto FC in that edition of the Canadian Championship, they’ve seen four different coaches, an entire roster rebuild, and a pandemic, among a whole other host of changes.
But thanks to a strong performance against York United on Wednesday, they’re back in one once again, as they officially clinched a spot in the final of the 2022 edition of the Canadian Championship, marking their long-awaited return to that stage.
So for the seventh time in their history, they’ll get to contest the final of that tournament, giving them as good of a shot as they’ve had in a while to pick up their second-ever trophy as an MLS club, dating all the way back to when they won the 2015 edition of the Canadian Championship.
Not only that, but they’ll get a chance to host this final, too, as they’re getting set to welcome Toronto FC at the end of July, giving a chance for them to contest this one-game final against a very familiar foe.
For a club that has endured a lot more pain than jubilation in recent years, especially in these big games and tournament settings, it’s a big moment, as it’ll give them a chance to really shed the ‘underachievers’ label that has dogged them in their time in MLS.
So safe to say, the Whitecaps are quite ecstatic to be back in such a game.
“We’re extremely happy to make the final,” Whitecaps head coach, Vanni Sartini, said afterwards.
“It’s going to be great to host the final that we’re in and will be competitive in,” ‘Caps striker, Brian White added.
Yet, that they were able to pull this off shows how much this team has changed as of late. Having turned a corner with a surprise late run to the MLS playoffs last year, one that snapped a four-year playoff drought, they hit a bit of a wall to start this season, making many wonder if the ‘Caps of old were back.
But then, they got their feet back underneath them, and all of a sudden, they’re in a final, as well as tied for a playoff spot in MLS’s Western Conference, as they approach the halfway point of their 2022 regular season there, showing how far they’ve come as of late.
And now, they’ve got a game that could be club-defining for them now with Toronto FC, one that can both give them a much-needed trophy to add to their cabinet, as well as qualify them for the 2023 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, all while getting one-up on a rival that has often gotten the better of them in the past.
So it’s safe to say, they’re looking forward to that game. You add in the fact that it’ll likely be one of the first games for Toronto’s big summer signing, Lorenzo Insigne, and there will be plenty of pomp and circumstance for that match, one that the Whitecaps are happy to be a part of.
Speaking of which, that’s something that the ‘Caps are warning fans of ahead of that clash – come to that game, but not for Insigne, as the hosts want as many of their faithful in the building to cheer them on in that final.
“Italians from Vancouver, don’t come here to support Insigne,” Sartini jokingly pleaded after the game. “We don’t care about him – let’s support the Whitecaps!.”
Knowing how big of a game it is for the club, they want to have a crowd that matches that, allowing them to mark this special occasion in front of their fans.
Having turned the corner on the field, they now want to turn a corner off it, and no better way to do that than in this long-awaited final.
It’s been far too long since the ‘Caps have had the chance to chase silverware, but thanks to this run, that’s changed, and now it’s just up to them to take full advantage of that.
So as they slowly start to get set for that game, they’re promising to go out full-blast for that one, and they urge their supporters to join them in helping them do that.
“It’s a big game, and we’ll approach it like that,” Sartini promised.
“Reaching the final has been difficult, we had to win three rounds, and the CPL teams are good.”
“So it’s something that’s really important,” he later added.
“Our fans have been great all year,” White continued. “So hopefully they’ll come out, even more, to see us compete for a trophy.”
Cover Photo via: Vancouver Whitecaps