Canadian Championship: Montreal Impact regret letting FC Edmonton rally after going up by 3

MONTREAL – As stirring as this game was for the neutral, it was a frustrating one for the Montreal Impact despite their win.

It seemed Montreal had put this Amway Canadian Championship semifinal against FC Edmonton to bed in the 47th minute, this Wednesday night at Stade Saputo. Jeb Brovsky’s header off a Hernan Bernardello corner kick had given Montreal a 3-0 advantage on the night, 4-2 on aggregate.

Edmonton had struggled terribly in the first half. Jack McInerney and Justin Mapp ruthlessly combined for two goals. It just didn’t feel like they’d find a lifeline.

Yet they did, and Montreal had to scramble to find a winner. A controversial penalty call in stoppage time put Montreal through to the final, 5-4 on aggregate, but they’ve picked up the warning signals.

“I think it was complacency,” team captain Patrice Bernier, who scored the winning PK, told reporters in French after the game. “It was 3-0. You may think the game’s over, because up to the point where they started to attack, nothing indicated that they’d score. We weren’t able to reverse the trend at that moment. We played with fire.”

Head coach Frank Klopas didn’t look an overjoyed man in his postgame press conference, only cracking a smile at the end when referring to how great a night it had been for the city of Montreal – the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens also progressed to the next round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.

For lack of a better phrase, Klopas called the sequence that led to Edmonton striker Frank Jonke’s quick double – a fine finish over Evan Bush followed by a confident, if somewhat questionably awarded, penalty kick – a “lack of concentration”.

“At 3-0, we had some chances, and then in the end, we gave up a goal out of nothing,” Klopas said. “We make a bad turnover in the middle, we give up a goal and it just seems that we crumbled. Our mentality has to be stronger.”

Klopas, like his opposite number Colin Miller, wasn’t in awe of referee Drew Fischer’s work. A dumbfounded Miller was at a loss to explain the stoppage-time penalty call, while Klopas thought “100 percent” that an 87th-minute foul on Sanna Nyassi that was called outside the area should have been a PK and lamented that several fouls on Justin Mapp – “one of the most creative guys in the league” – weren’t sufficiently punished.

But, nuanced Klopas, his team should have turned the last minutes of the encounter into something much, much more serene anyway.

“The game should have been 5, 6-0,” Klopas said. “It should have been over.”