The battle at Commonwealth between FC Edmonton and Vancouver Whitecaps FC got off to a firey start on Wednesday night as the Eddies played at home for the first time this season.
It was the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semi-final and it was FC Edmonton who looked the stronger team heading into the half.
It didn’t start out well for the home team however. A series of corners and free kicks for the ‘Caps finally resulted in a goal for Camilo Sanvezzo in the fifth minute to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
The lead didn’t last long though. Eddies forward Michael Cox took advantage of a missed header by the Whitecaps defender and headed the ball over a charging Brad Knighton to tie it at 1-1 in the eighth minute.
The dream half for the Eddies continued as Lance Laing stepped up to take a corner in the 27th and Chris Nurse’s clinical header was again beat Knighton.
2-1 for the Eddies at the half.
With wave after wave of Whitecaps attack, the Eddies backline stood strong and ‘keeper Lance Parker continued to keep FC Edmonton in the game and in the lead.
After a few nervous moments, it was the away side that earned a penalty kick in the 81st minute after Camilo was fouled in the box. Making no mistake, he picked his spot and put it past Parker to tie the game up 2-2.
The game’s momentum changed with that goal, and it was all Vancouver for the last 10 minutes. ‘Caps midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker danced around FCE defender Adrian LeRoy in the 88th minute to feed in a cross. Defender Eddie Edward went to clear, but ended up putting it back into danger and Vancouver forward Tom Heinemann got the rebound off of Parker to put it in the back of the net to make it 3-2.
The game ended with that goal and a final score of 3-2 and the Eddies walk off feeling hard done by having lead for the majority of the match.
Coach Colin Miller was unable to finish the match on the bench- as he was sent walking after the Whitecaps penalty.
“I felt we showed all night that we have some terrific character and I think we’ve won some fans here in Edmonton and across the country,” FC Edmonton coach Miller shares in the press conference after the match. “The country saw a team that fought to the end against a very good Whitecaps side.”
“It certainly was a tough game,” said Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie after the match. “Credit to Edmonton. I thought they played well tonight and worked really hard to get back in it after going down (a goal) early.”
The Eddies now play in the NASL home opened on Sunday versus the San Antonio Scorpions at Clarke Stadium (2:00p.m MT kick off) before heading off to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps in the second leg of this semi-final on May 1.