TORONTO (AP) – A relentless lightning and rain storm forced officials to wipe out play Wednesday night in the Canadian Championship final between Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Under Canadian Championship rules, the game will be replayed from the start Thursday. If the field isn't up to playable standards at the 11 a.m. starting time, the match will be rescheduled for another day.
The Whitecaps had a 1-0 lead in the second match in the two-game, total-goals series when officials sent the teams to the dressing rooms in the 60th minute. After a delay of more than an hour, play was called off.
''It's unfair. I feel it's very unfair,'' Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordarson said about starting the game over. ''Under these circumstances you have to start a new game, and obviously the advantage we got under this game doesn't count, so that is obviously unfair.''
Toronto coach Aron Winter agreed with the weather rule, and referenced Erik Jongbloed, the Dutch goalkeeper who was killed by lightning during a match in 1984.
''There's a risk to play the game this evening, you're speaking about people, something can happen and then nobody's going to discuss an argument about the rules, you have to respect the rules and I'm following the rules,'' Winter said. ''I know it is not nice for Vancouver at the moment. But the pitch was unplayable and also with the lightning, I think this was the best choice.''
Eric Hassli scored in the 17th minute with a low strike that deflected off defender Julian de Guzman's foot and sailed past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
The Voyageurs Trophy winner will receive a spot in 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League play.
A nearby lightning strike just before halftime forced a 45-minute delay to start the second half.
The water-logged pitch was nearly unplayable in the second half, with one pass back to Frei stopping dead and forcing the goalkeeper to sprint out to boot the ball out of danger.
Officials sent the teams off the field again in the 60th minute following another lightning strike, and the fans were instructed to leave the stadium.