USL club Vancouver assumed control of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship by beating MLS' Toronto FC 2-0 Tuesday at Swangard Stadium to all but clinch a spot in the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League.
Ansu Toure scored on either side of halftime to lift the Whitecaps -- defending USL-1 champions -- into first place of the three-team group with a 3-1-0 record and nine points. Toronto (2-1-0, six points) lost for the first time in the competition and meets Montreal June 18 needing not only a win but some help in the tiebreaker process to edge out Vancouver.
Since the teams split their two meetings, goal difference will be used as the tiebreaker if TFC beats Montreal. By winning 2-0 Vancouver improved its goal difference to plus-4 and reduced TFC's to zero, meaning Toronto needs at least a four-goal victory -- in Montreal -- to advance. The Impact (0-3-0), which represented Canada in the 2008-09 CCL and courageously reached the quarterfinals, were eliminated in their second game last week.
If the teams tie on goal difference, the next tiebreaker is goals scored, which Vancouver leads with five. In three games, Toronto has scored twice, and so would edge out the Whitecaps with a 4-0 win, since its plus-4 goal difference would be six goals scored minus two goals allowed. But since no team in the five games played to date in the competition has scored more than two goals, TFC's task appears nearly hopeless.
Needing only a tie to clinch the title and a spot in the CCL, Toronto fell behind to a Toure goal in the 31st minute. Keeper Greg Sutton, who got the start in place of Stefan Frei (toe infection) parried a shot from Wes Knight right into the path of Toure, who scored his first goal for the club since arriving from Miami during the offseason.
TFC, missing internationals Marvell Wynne (U.S.) and Amado Guevara (Honduras), nearly equalized on several occasions. Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly fumbled a shot but no TFC player could get to the loose ball, and in the 38th minute defender Lyle Martin saved a goal by racing behind Sutton to knock away a chip by Dwayne De Rosario. Three minutes later, Pablo Vitti's shot hit the goalpost.
Forward Chad Barrett, whose squandered chances are testing the patience of TFC fans, failed to put away a pair of headers and Vancouver punished his team's misses in the 81st minute when Toure blasted his second goal. Charles Gbeke set up the chance for Toure, who drilled a shot past Sutton from just inside the penalty area.
Vancouver posted its crucial victory without captain Martin Nash, who sat out a one-game suspension. TFC defender Kevin Harmse incurred his second caution of the competition and will miss the game in Montreal.