Toronto owns slim Canadian Championship final lead

Sebastian Giovinco (pictured) celebrates after scoring the only goal in Toronto FC's win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final on June 21, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Toronto FC)


TORONTO -- With 90 minutes still to play in the 2016 Amway Canadian Championship final, Toronto FC may possess a slight advantage on the scoreboard, but the Vancouver Whitecaps will have home field advantage as they look to defend their crown.

Sebastian Giovinco’s first-half goal was the difference Tuesday night as Toronto picked up a narrow 1-0 win at BMO Field. With the series shifting to Vancouver on June 30, the title and a place in the 2017/18 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League remain up for grabs.

“We would have liked to get a goal away from home but it’s still a wide open tie and we’re going back home,” said midfielder Ben McKendry, who played all 90 minutes for Vancouver. “We obviously need to score a few goals to win the trophy.”

The Whitecaps had some first-half chances that they couldn’t bury. Toronto took the lead in the 43rd minute, when Giovinco received a pass from Molham Babouli, cut from the left into the middle and then saw his right-footed shot from 20-yards out deflect off Vancouver’s Kendall Waston prior to finding the back of the net.

Despite piling on the pressure in the second half, Toronto couldn’t extend the advantage, leaving it with a nominal cushion heading into the second leg.

“We’re happy that we didn’t give up any goals, but we know there’s still a lot of work to do in the second leg,” said Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin. “We wish it could be more, but we’ve shown that we can keep clean sheets. I’m comfortable with that. 

“We know that they have to come out and attack us and hopefully give us some space to get a goal. We know an away goal would be huge for us.”

Toronto has not captured the Canadian Championship since 2012, while Vancouver is looking to lift the trophy for a second consecutive year.