The Vancouver Whitecaps hope to rediscover their opening-day magic in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship series.

Vancouver will host Toronto FC tonight in the first game of the two-leg, aggregate goals competition. The Whitecaps celebrated their Major League Soccer debut in March with a convincing 4-2 comeback victory over the Reds before a sellout crowd at Empire Field.

It was just the result Vancouver was looking for as it sought to make a splash in North America’s top league. But the Whitecaps, 1-5-5 in league play, have struggled since then.

They have yet to post another win at home and have only one other victory, in the Canadian semifinal series at Montreal, in a season highlighted by come-from-behind home draws.

Tonight’s game contains added significance for Vancouver because away goals rank as the first tie-breaker in this series. A West Coast win will give the Reds the upper hand before heading home for the second and deciding game May 25 at BMO Field.

Toronto coach Aron Winter, in his first season with TFC, said the opening-game loss was not indicative of his team’s true abilities. The festive atmosphere favoured the Whitecaps. And the Reds needed time to adjust to their new coaches and system.

“It was our first game in the league,” said Winter. “After two and a half months, we’ve made a fair bit of progress.”