[Second leg live blog is above]
The first leg of the USL-1 semifinal was a bit of a tricky win for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Yes, they won 2-1, but they conceded a penalty along the way after a ball bounced off Lyle Martin's hand. That tied the score after an early goal from Charles Gbeke, and Vancouver only won thanks to a late goal from Marcus Haber off a Gbeke cross.
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson said he was impressed with the team's resilence.
"I think they responded very well to the goal," he said.
Thordarson wasn't happy with the penalty call, though.
"From my perspective, it's very harsh to give that penalty there," he said. "He just covered his face and the ball hit him. I've never seen that before."
Gbeke said he was confident the team would come back despite a 1-1 tie at halftime, and he figured Haber would notch one of his opportunities.
"In the locker room, I told Marcus he was going to score today," he said.
Gbeke, who led USL-1 with 12 goals this season, played one of his best games of the year. He was dominant all night, scoring the first goal and setting up the second. He's played in a variety of roles this year thanks to the Caps' depth up front, but he said he isn't concerned if he starts or not.
"It doesn't matter if Coach wants me to start or wants me to come in off the bench," he said.
Haber said the team didn't get frustrated when they fell behind.
"We knew we had to keep pressuring them," he said. "We knew we'd get our chances."
They did indeed get them, and Haber notched home the winner off a lovely cross from Gbeke. Still, Vancouver only has a one-goal lead going into this second leg at Portland, a place where they've struggled recently. The temptation might be to play defensively, but Thordarson said that won't be the case.
"We will try to go down there and play our game," he said. "I feel the team is very confident. It will be a totally different game down there; whether that will suit us beter than them is yet to be seen."
[Cross-posted to The 24th Minute]