TORONTO, Ontario – The Montreal Impact fell to Toronto FC 2-0 on Wednesday night at BMO Field in the first leg of the aggregate goal semi-final series of the Amway Canadian Championship in Toronto.
The return leg is set for next Wednesday at Stade Saputo at 7:30pm (ET).
Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry opened the scoring in the 49th minute following a failed clearing attempt. Henry, posted just outside the half-circle, hammered a one-timer after the ball was deflected in his direction that sailed into the top corner, leaving Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush no chance as he dove to his right.
In the 81st minute, a counter attack following a giveaway at half field found Hogan Ephraim, who set up Andrew Wiedeman with a through ball behind the Impact defence. The TFC forward pushed the ball forward with one touch before firing a low shot past Bush to his right from just inside the penalty area.
With a choppy start to the game for both teams, the Impact managed to win the possession battle in the first half with 56.1% and had the edge in open play crosses (9-6) and passes 227-177.
Toronto had one more shot attempted in the first half (4-3), which ended up being the only one that was on target. In the 18th minute, Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush dove low to his left to knock away a left-footed free kick that curled around the wall from about 25 yards out by TFC midfielder John Bostock.
In extra time, Bush came up big to stop TFC from scoring a third when Wiedeman was in alone again, but his point blank shot was punched away.
This game was the first of a six-game stretch to be played in just 18 days for the team. A number of changes were made to the starting lineup, including goalkeeper Evan Bush, forward Andrew Wenger, midfielders Collen Warner and Calum Mallace, as well as left back Maxim Tissot, who all made their first starts in 2013. It was the first time the Impact had three Canadians in the starting lineup.
Recently acquired Italian forward Daniele Paponi made his Impact debut in the 60th minute, coming on as a substitute for Calum Mallace.
In Canadian Championship play, the Impact has never beaten TFC and is now 0-7-2.
The tournament decides Canada’s representative in the next CONCACAF Champions League. In the other semi-final of the tournament, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC face FC Edmonton.
“Toronto wanted to win but we made a lot of mistakes,” said Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum. “We are going to grow with this loss. The first half was pretty even but we made too many mistakes in the second half. Toronto was better tonight but there is a second game. The players showed me this week they were ready, but it was tough cup game. I trust my players. It’s impossible to have all players play today and Saturday.”
“We have to recuperate quickly,” said Bush. “We have a week to take a look at the things we did wrong, which we never really got on the ball and dictated the play. We have to try and fix those errors and do more positive next week. They exposed some mistakes so credit to them. We’ll have to play with more confidence.”
“We started the game well. We got close to goal, but we were unable to score,” explained Patrice Bernier, who wore the captain’s armband for the game. “However, the second half, we lost most of our duals and we weren’t able to match their level. They scored an important opening goal and as we opened things up near the end of the game, they managed a second. We have to wipe our memory clean and forget this loss as we have an important game on Saturday versus Chicago.”
The Impact will host the Chicago Fire in league play this Saturday at 4pm (ET) at Stade Saputo. Exceptionally for this game, students can purchase tickets at a discount of 15% in presale.
Single game tickets for all of the team’s home games are available via the Admission network (admission.com / 1-855-790-1245) or via the Stade Saputo ticket office (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Maxim Tissot, Karl W. Ouimette, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky; M- Patrice Bernier, Sanna Nyassi (Andrea Pisanu 77’), Calum Mallace (Daniele Paponi 60’), Collen Warner, Justin Mapp (Andrés Romero 60’); F-Andrew Wenger
Unused Subs: GK-Maxime Crépeau; D-Dennis Iapichino; M-Felipe, Wandrille Lefèvre
TOR – GK-Stefan Frei; D- Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, Danny Califf, Ryan Richter; M-Jonathan Osorio, Kyle Bekker (Luis Silva 72’), John Bostock, Emery Welshman; F-Justin Braun (Hogan Ephraim 72’), Andrew Wiedeman