Montreal has a 2-1 lead on Cavalry FC
CALGARY, Alberta – The Montreal Impact will play the return leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals, this Wednesday at 9:30pm EDT against Cavalry FC at Spruce Meadows. Montreal has a 2-1 lead thanks to a Nacho Piatti brace in the first leg, which took place last Wednesday at Stade Saputo.
“They’re a well-organized team,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “There’s a lot of good work being done behind the scenes. They’re a young team in this new league. We know our task won’t be easy, but we’re there to defend our ticket to the final. I think it’ll be a different game than the one in Montreal. Conditions are much different where they play, but we must adapt. We’ll need to rival them on a footballing level, but also in terms of character, to win this game.”
Canadian Championship expanding
With the arrival of the Canadian Premier League, the Canadian Championship’s format was revisited and expanded this year. 13 clubs stemming from five different leagues now compete through five different rounds for the Voyageurs Cup and a chance to qualify to the Concacaf Champions League. The Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC enter the fray in the third round, while TFC, winners of the 2018 edition, have a bye until the semifinal.
With nine Voyageurs Cups to its name, Montreal is the team that’s most often lifted the Canadian trophy. Its last championship, in 2014, propelled the Impact all the way to the Champions League final, in 2015.
“We want to go to the final,” said defender Jukka Raitala. “That’s the ultimate goal. Once we’re there, we want to win the Canadian Championship. But we can’t look too far forward, because the focus needs to be on Wednesday’s matchup. We know it’ll be tough, but we’ll be ready for a fight. The team that’s better prepared mentally will win the game, and it has to be us.”
Defending the lead
Montreal will want to defend its one-goal lead acquired in the first leg and will be ready for the challenge posed by Cavalry FC, who wasn’t an easy opponent at Stade Saputo. The good news for the Impact is that the three players recruited on deadline day, Bojan, Ballou Tabla, and Jorge Corrales, will all be available for the game in Alberta; the bad news, however, is the adductor injury suffered by Nacho Piatti, who returned to Montreal after the game against the Chicago Fire. He’s been ruled out of the next two games.
The Impact isn’t the only travel weary team. Cavalry FC, following its game in Montreal, went to Halifax to take on the Wanderers on Saturday, a game that finished in a scoreless draw, with French striker Dominique Malonga missing a penalty.
“They’re a dangerous team,” said midfielder Shamit Shome. “You know what you’re going to get with them. They work and they work for each other. They’re a very connected team. We know they’re dangerous off set-pieces and counterattacks, and that’s how they punished us in the first game. We’ll have to be aware of that again playing in Calgary.”
The Impact will be back at Stade Saputo for an MLS game, Bojan’s first in Montreal, on Saturday, August 17, at 7:30pm (TICKETS– TVA Sports) against FC Dallas, former club of striker Maxi Urruti. Rémi Garde’s men will then play their second rivalry game of the MLS regular season against Toronto FC on Saturday, August 24, at 7:30pm at BMO Field (TVA Sports, TSN, 98.5, TSN 690).