Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini jumped to chants in front of supporters while players and coaches streamed on the field at B.C. Place, tearing off their shirts and hugging one another to celebrate a back-to-back Canadian Championship win.
Ryan Gauld scored the matchwinner off a penalty in the 65th minute as Vancouver beat CF Montreal 2-1 to ensure the Canadian Championship trophy stays on the West Coast for another year.
Gauld said after the match that he routinely decides a day before the match where to place his penalty.
“As soon as the referee’s given the penalty, as soon as I get the ball I know where I’m going,” he said.
The head coach couldn’t have been much happier after the match.
“We’re over the moon,” said Sartini, who had stripped off his shirt on television after being soaked in Gatorade by a member of his coaching staff. “I’m very happy for everyone. I told them before the game that I’m proud to work with them.”
Montreal scored its lone goal in the 83rd minute after Vancouver defender Tristan Blackmon failed to clear the ball in his team’s box, allowing Montreal forward Sunusi Ibrahim to tuck it past goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka.
The Whitecaps opened the scoring 57 minutes in off an error from Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, which allowed striker Brian White to slot the ball home.
It’s the second straight year the Whitecaps have claimed the Canadian Championship and the third time in the club’s history it has won the trophy.
“It’s so satisfying for a coach,” Sartini said about his team’s performance. “It’s even more satisfying than winning the cup. Because it means that these guys believe in this process, believe in what we’re doing.”
Sartini got a tattoo of the trophy after winning last year and said he would add to it after the latest triumph.
Up until the breakthrough goal, Vancouver had been denied by Sirois’s several acrobatic saves, including one where he stopped what looked like a sure goal with his feet mid-dive.
Montreal head coach Hernan Losada praised the B.C.-club after the match and said it was a good learning experience for his young squad.
“We really gave it our all,” Lasorda said. “It’s a beautiful experience for so many young players in our roster. To be part of a game like that, well not many players have the opportunity to play a final. Some players have careers of 10 or 15 years and have never been in a situation like that.”
The Whitecaps outshot Montreal 20-9 with the Quebec side leaving it until late to threaten Takaoka’s goal.
“We were playing very well and I told (the players) that every time we had a chance it was because we carried the ball,” Sartini said about what he told his team at halftime.
Canada men’s head coach John Herdman presented the Best Young Canadian Player Award to midfielder Ali Ahmed, who missed the match as he continues his recovery from a concussion.
Canada Soccer interim general secretary and former national team player Jason de Vos presented the George Gross Most Valuable Player Award to Julian Gressel, who recorded an assist on White’s opener.
Sartini signed as head coach in 2021 and said after the match he wants to continue in his role.
An hour after the match, Whitecaps staff, players and their families went on the pitch to take one last photo to document the win.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.