MONTREAL – A half-volley stoppage time goal by Felipe lifted the Impact to its second consecutive Amway Canadian Championship title on Wednesday night, beating rival Toronto FC 1-0 at Stade Saputo and taking the title following a 2-1 aggregate goal series victory.
As a result, the bleu-blanc-noir joins the New York Red Bulls and Club Deportivo FAS, from El Salvador, in Group 3 of the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I think you have to seize the moment,” said head coach Frank Klopas. “We talked about it in preseason and this was one of our goals. It was a big game and I give all the credit to my team because we fought for 90 minutes. It means a lot to get a clean sheet against a very talented team. I am very proud of the team, and that`s not only for the team, but this is for Montreal. I`m excited to be part of it.”
A 0-0 tie would have seen the Impact advance, but Felipe, who played much of the game out wide, ensured that there were no surprises, pouncing on a rebound from a Marco Di Vaio shot that ricocheted off the crossbar in the 91st minute.
“My role is to play. It doesn’t matter where they put me, I am here to play,” said the Brazilian midfielder. “I want to thank the coach because he has helped me a lot and given me a lot of confidence. We are together a great group and we have to continue to do the job we did today.”
Out-possessed for parts of the first half, the Impact played solid defensively, closing down the middle to ensure that TFC’s striking tandem of Defoe and Moore could not penetrate into the box and preserve Evan Bush’s third career clean sheet in ACC play.
Building from the back, the bleu-blanc-noir was still able to find a few good scoring chances from the first 45, including a 28th minute header by Jack McInerney that just sailed over the bar.
The field tilted for the Impact in the second half as the Impact regained control by outshooting, outdueling and out-tackling the Reds for the remainder of the game, earning two good chances in the final 10 minutes.
“Especially after our last home game, we wanted to be first on the ball,” explained captain Patrice Bernier. “We didn`t want to be content with a 0-0 game. We pushed through and created a lot of opportunities today. So yes, it was part of our plan to win, to protect our title as champions, and it meant even more to us to do it at home.”
Following his club’s lead, midfielder Justin Mapp was named MVP of the tournament for a second straight year.
The Impact will play its next game at home versus D.C. United on Wednesday, June 11, at 7:30pm (EDT) at Stade Saputo.
MTL – GK-Evan Bush; D-Karl W. Ouimette, Heath Pearce, Wandrille Lefèvre, Hassoun Camara; M-Patrice Bernier, Hernan Bernardello, Andrés Romero (Maxim Tissot 88’), Justin Mapp (Felipe 60’); F-Marco Di Vaio, Jack McInerney (Calum Mallace 75’)
Subs not used: G-Troy Perkins; D-Matteo Ferrari, Adrian Lopez; A-Santiago Gonzalez
TOR – GK-Joe Bendik; D-Mark Bloom, Steven Caldwell, Doneil Henry, Justin Morrow; M-Alvaro Rey (Dwayne De Rosario 74’), Jeremy Hall (Jonathan Osorio 67’), Kyle Bekker, Daniel Lovitz (Gilberto 55’); F-Jermain Defoe, Luke Moore
Subs not used: GK-Chris Konopka; D-Ashtone Morgan, Nick Hagglund; F-Andrew Wiedeman
MTL – Felipe (Di Vaio) 90+1’
MTL – Bernardello 4’
MTL – Felipe 90+2’