Crucial return leg to be played next Tuesday at Stade Saputo
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Montreal Impact started its path in the Canadian Championship with a 2-1 loss against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the semi-final first leg, on Tuesday night at BC Place, in Vancouver.
It really was a game of two halves in Western Canada. After a tough first half during which the Impact conceded twice, Montreal was more convincing after the break, showing the type of performance that could have allowed the team to level the score.
“The first half was unacceptable. We started playing after we conceded two goals. But we played well in the second half and we created chances which allowed us to dictate the rhythm of the game,” said Impact head coach Mauro Biello. “We could have come back and levelled the score with all the chances we got. I only have good things to say about our young players’ performances tonight. Now, we go back to Montreal with an away goal and we have to win at home.”
The Whitecaps opened the score in the 13th minute. After a long clearance by the goalkeeper towards the right flank, forward Brek Shea crossed on the ground towards Mauro Rosales, who perfectly executed a dummy and let the ball roll in Alphonso Davies’ run. The young winger beat Impact goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau with a low shot.
Then, in the 33rd minute, Davies dribbled in the Montreal third. He ran into Hernán Bernardello and the loose ball fell at Nicolás Mezquida’s feet at the edge of the box. The Uruguayan midfielder beat Crépeau to his right and doubled the locals’ lead.
Dominated by a determined Whitecaps team, the Bleu-blanc-noir looked for organization in the first 45 minutes of the game. While a lot of passes went astray, the best scoring chance came in the 23rd minute, when Dominic Oduro took a low shot from a narrow angle, but goalkeeper Spencer Richey made the first of his five saves on the night.
“The first half was embarrassing, but the second half was very important, considering it’s a two-legged series,” said Impact defender Chris Duvall. “The whole staff does a great job preparing us, so it’s up to us, the players, to do more. We know that if we keep the shutout at home, we will probably win.”
The Impact, with two substitutions early on in the second half, cut the deficit in half in the 62nd minute when defender Daniel Lovitz sent a long diagonal ball towards Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who had entered the fold in the 55th minute. The Quebec City native flicked the ball with a header for David Choinière, who was entering the box with speed. Alone in front of Richey, Choinière scored his first goal with the first team with an emphatic finish.
“In the first half, it was complicated for us. We were not really in the game,” said Choinière. “We woke up in the second half. I am happy to have scored my first goal, but I would have preferred to score in a win.”
In the 68th minute, defender Chris Duvall took a low, bouncing shot from distance that struck the woodwork to the right of the ‘Caps goalkeeper. Anthony Jackson-Hamel was there for the rebound, but directed his shot just outside the frame of the goal.
Less than five minutes later, Ballou Tabla went on a mesmerizing run on the left flank and entered the Vancouver box. The referee gave a penalty to the Impact, as Jakob Nerwinski had handled the ball in the box. Patrice Bernier, who also entered the game in the 55th minute, took the penalty, but was saved by Richey with a dive to his right.
The Impact kept on looking for an equalizer before the final whistle, notably through Jackson-Hamel’s towering work in the air, and then until the very last seconds of the game, but Richey stopped once again Bernier with a dive on his right, preventing a second away goal and the equalizer for Montreal.
Having played this past Saturday against Portland at Stade Saputo, the Impact rotated the squad by combining freshness, youth and experience. Crépeau got his first competitive start with the first team, while winger David Choinière, back from injury, started his first game this season.
Crucial game at Stade Saputo
The Impact will complete this home-and-away series at Stade Saputo, on Tuesday, May 30, at 7:30pm EDT (RDS, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690). Excellent individual tickets for this game, as well as prorated season tickets, are still available at impactmontreal.com.
VAN – GK-Spencer Richey; D-Marcel de Jong, Sem de Wit, Cole Seiler; M-Alphonso Davies (Deklan Wynne, 71’), Russell Teibert, Ben McKendry, Jakob Nerwinski; F-Nicolás Mezquida (Marco Bustos, 71’), Mauro Rosales (Kyle Greig, 80’); Brek Shea.
Subs not used: Sean Melvin, Matthew Baldisimo, David Norman, Gloire Amanda.
MTL – GK-Maxime Crépeau; D-Daniel Lovitz, Laurent Ciman, Hassoun Camara (Wandrille Lefèvre, 77’), Chris Duvall; M-Hernán Bernardello, Adrián Arregui (Anthony Jackson-Hamel, 55’), Calum Mallace (Patrice Bernier, 55’); F-David Choinière, Dominic Oduro, Ballou Tabla.
Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Shamit Shome, Michael Salazar, Nick DePuy.
VAN – Davies 13’(Mezquida, Shea)
VAN – Mezquida 33’ (Davies)
MTL – Choinière 62’ (Jackson-Hamel, Lovitz)