Nora Stankovic /CPL

What to expect at Spruce Meadows

Impact takes a 2-1 lead into the Canadian Championship semifinals second leg

The Impact was dominant in the first leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals. After 90 minutes of play, Rémi Garde’s men had 64% of possession, getting nine shots on target as opposed to the Cavalry’s one. Montreal also completed over 200 more passes, edging out the Calgarians in duels won and tackles as well.

Still, when it was all said and done, the Impact emerged victorious, yes, but only 2-1, Calgary scoring an all-important away goal as well. So, that means when Montreal visits Cavalry FC tonight, at 9:30pm EDT at Spruce Meadows, there’ll be everything to play for.

They’re playing at home and they’ll have support from the fans,” said midfielder Shamit Shome. “It’s a small stadium, which makes for a really good atmosphere. I think they’ll look to get on the front foot and pressure us a little more, especially considering they’re more used to the field conditions than we are. I’m sure we can expect them to be more aggressive. We’ll need to be aware of that and make sure we make no mistakes.”

The Impact had a glorious chance to take a 3-0 lead in the opening leg through Nacho Piatti, but the Argentine provided a rare miss from inside the box, coming inches away from completing his hat-trick. On the other end, Cavalry made their one opportunity count, taking advantage of a defensive error to get back into the tie.

Still, the Impact knows that if it doesn’t concede at Spruce Meadows, it’ll book its ticket to the final for the first time since 2016.

“Our defensive game at Stade Saputo was under control, except for the goal we handed them on a silver platter,” explained head coach Rémi Garde. “But they’re well-organized. The conditions there will be different, from what we saw in the games we’ve watched at this stadium, but those are the details of cup games. We must adapt.”

Calgary reached the semi-final stage of the competition by upsetting the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-1 on aggregate in the previous round. Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s men have proven to be a difficult opponent to shake, and they’ll have the confidence of having beaten an MLS side behind them as they get set to take on the Impact in the second leg. 

“They didn’t play with any fear in Montreal, so I think they’ll be a confident side at home,” said defender Jukka Raitala. “I think we’re a better team, but they got an away goal in Montreal. It goes to show that when they get a chance, they can punish us. It’s a tough opponent, and we’re expecting a difficult game, especially away from home.”

The Impact will then return home to host FC Dallas at Stade Saputo, which will also be Bojan’s, the Impact’s new number nine, first game in Montreal. Excellent tickets are still available at impactmontreal.com.